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Cupping Training?
How does one train for cupping and exercise the olfactory?

Is there a standard amount of coffee mixed with a standard amount of water at a standard temperature for a standard amount of time? That's the easy part though.

I find myself reading cupping notes for coffees that I have, then sipping and thinking, "hey, I taste that too!" The only problem is I can't identify it before someone brings it to my attention. How does one separate "fig" from "rasin" or "blackberry" from "black cherry" or when does one say "cocoa" instead of "chocolate", or how do they think of "sweet coconut"?

The wheel-of-flavors is OK, but a scratch-n-sniff rule book would be very handy.

And then, there's this thread: http://forum.home...#post_7224
Roaster: CoffeeAir II 2# DIY air roaster
Grinder: Vintage Grindmaster 500
Brewers: Vintage Cory DCU DCL, Aeropress, Press, Osaka Titanium pourover
"Le Nez du Cafe" was the name of the workshop that I went to. [The Nose of Coffee]. It was a spin-off of a similar course for wine tasters and used the same training materials.

They had vials of various scents at each of a dozen widely-spaced tables in the room. The vials were numbered and we were given the task of matching the numbers to the scents listed on the worksheets. I think there were about 5 or 6 per group. The teachers asked us to talk about the scents in some detail. For example, for the one that folks called 'Lemon"-- the teacher said "What part of the lemon? The juice, the pulp, the rind (zest). It actually smelled like lemon Pledge furniture polish to me. Later I realized that it was the smell of a broken leaf off a lemon tree I used to have.

The aromas ranged from the usual chocolate, nuts or cherries to odd, off-smells: burnt rubber. Phew!! I got to smell what is called "Rio-ey" It is a diesel smell that was associated with poor storage in the warehouses by the docks of Rio de Janiero, IIRC.

At the training cuppings I have attended the fragrances (dry), the aromas (wet) and the flavors were all identified by the "associations" that the novice group made to them. For example, "That reminds me of being at Grandmas house by the ocean." or "asparagus" or "green peppers" or "wet dirt" It was explained the the olfactory nerve went straight into its own receptor area in the brain. It doesn't go anywhere near the verbal circuitry. So associations are produced and gradually people learn to give consensus descriptions over time. It's a fun process.
Island Addict
I could never justify the cost, but this flavor kit and this aroma kit would be fun to have.
Edited by Island Addict on 12/12/2008 7:43 PM
Don't they have all of those at Bath and Body works? Wow, that's pricey for .5 ounces of 15 oils. Agreed, though, it would be very handy to have.

David, is that something like you used in the workshop?

Roaster: CoffeeAir II 2# DIY air roaster
Grinder: Vintage Grindmaster 500
Brewers: Vintage Cory DCU DCL, Aeropress, Press, Osaka Titanium pourover
We have cupped with the training wheel available. I find it distracting though some found it helpful.

Buy a pound of CoE that has notes, grab 3 #s of Left Coast beans with good notes, and find 3 coffee buds. Dig in there and see what you find in comparison.

I am taking a cupping course for roasters at the Coffee Fest in Chicago in February. I will be glad to post back. Less about palate and more about the physics/chemistry the creates the cup we sup:

Edited by BoldJava on 12/13/2008 7:07 AM
Dave Borton
Milwaukee, WI


seedlings wrote:David, is that something like you used in the workshop?

Yes, I believe that the aroma package is what we had at each table. The scents were not labeled by name, just numbered. We had to commit to a guess before The Truth was revealed.

I haven't done the flavor set yet. I will be looking for an opportunity to do so, perhaps in April at SCAA.

I understand that the judges for the Barista competitions are being asked to pass a certain baseline test for taste discrimination. IIRC, it is just the basic four: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. I don't know if umami is on the test. As I understand it, the flavors are added to pure water in increasing amounts until the tasters' threshhold is reached and the flavor can be named. I don't know the exact format of the tests or the level of concentration that is considered passing for each flavor.

FWIW, I learned that "bitter" takes only a minuscule PPM concentration to be discerned by humans. That is because most poisons found in nature have a bitter taste.
So, high sensitivity to bitterness s:7 and a strong gag reflex c:4 have major survival value!
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