At New England Coffee, three people—all certified Q Graders—do all of the cupping. When they sit down at the family’s antique round cupping table that spins like a Lazy Susan, they practice a craft that has, over time, acquired its own choreography and language.
The process is basically a function of putting ground coffee in a cup with hot water and then smelling and tasting the coffee. There is no filter, there is no cream and sugar added, it is a truly pure experience of tasting and evaluating the coffee.
To prepare for cupping, a sample of green beans is taken from an order. The green beans are roasted and then ground. The ground coffee is then measured into a special cup. For New England Coffee, there are 6 cups created for each sample so that the three certified Q Graders can participate in the process. Once the ground coffee is in each cup, steaming hot water is added. A crust forms on the surface, which is then broken and the cupping process of smelling, spooning, tasting, and spitting out begins.
Through steady practice, the three certified Q Graders have learned to evaluate every nuance of a coffee, including aroma, body and texture, sweetness and acidity, flavor and taste. For aroma alone, they can detect notes of caramel, malt, chocolate, flowers, fruits, wet soil, wet fur, wet grass, ash, tobacco, leather, rubber, various nuts and spices, and more.
The art of cupping at New England Coffee has not really changed over the past 100 years. It is a process that has endured and will continue as part of the important quality control done for all New England Coffee.