The importance of cupping our coffees

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The importance of cupping our coffees

| 2019-01-03

Coffee, a source of pleasure

The beauty of our job, just as with all other jobs in the food sector, is that the consumer first and foremost buys a product which will be a source of pleasure.

Our main aim is to be able to translate this desire by transmitting sensory information in the most objective way possible to enable the consumer to make his/her choice. In coffee, the major difficulty is understanding and mastering all the parameters which have an impact on the taste profile of the coffees we sell. It has to be said that we haven't chosen the easiest product; when we buy wine for example, the wine merchant gives us information not only on the terroir, but also the sensory scoring and the right temperature to enjoy the wine at. The consumer then only has to open the bottle and savour the wine. For tea, except for how it should be prepared (temperature, infusion time...), it is the final product which is sold. However, in coffee it is much more complex, as for each coffee we are obliged to know which taste profile will be brought out using this coffee maker, whilst using that coffee maker will develop other flavours, not to mention another coffee maker... Not forgetting the recurring (positive) requests from consumers about the right amount of coffee to use, as well as which grind!

Here's another example, this time professional.

When you buy green coffee, our natural instinct is to take the technical data sheet from our favourite importer and display it on our silo or bean dispenser. But the degree of final roasting may not be the same at all as the sample you tasted when you purchased the coffee. What's more, you roast using a roaster with a certain capacity, whilst the sample was roasted on a 100 gram sampler: ultimately, your roasting time will not be the same and the aromatic development, flavours and texture will not be developed in the same way. The end result can be catastrophic; if you offer a customer a coffee that is supposed to be sweet and chocolaty and which after roasting has become powerful and spicy (this has already happened to me!)... The major issue is that the customer struggles to understand aromas in coffee, whereas as a rule, he or she will find it easier to identify them in wine. You and your teams may also be uncomfortable with the cupping notes displayed on the silos (this too, I have already experienced).

The importance of cupping !

The only way to avoid this is to carry out regular team cupping sessions of all your coffees, creating common cupping notes (1 per day is enough).

The difference between a hesitant person trying to sell a coffee using the notes on the side of the silo, and someone who has created his or her own personal cupping notes is, as you can imagine, enormous; from both a taste perspective as well as from a commercial point of view! It is always advisable to prime our sales pitch in the first person, such as “Personally, in this coffee, I tasted...”. We are fully aware that aromatic notes remain subjective according to our culture, what we eat etc...
Creating spontaneity, sincerity and expertise, and an increased trust in your coffees can only improve sales and create a sensory link with your clientele, an essential tool to develop customer loyalty.
It is also advisable to regularly put yourself in your consumers' shoes by cupping using their preparation methods to see how the coffee behaves and fully grasp the impact of the preparation method on your product. I believe a final step would also appear crucial: check our roasting by organising weekly cupping sessions of your different coffees. We are unfortunately not immune from making a roasting mistake. And this will also allow you to identify the roasting profiles which you wish to keep and replicate. Let's not forget that we sell a product that people drink. We are therefore obliged to be the very best possible ambassadors for our coffees. And this means understanding better and regularly cupping our range of coffees.

Jeremie, from our School of Coffee

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