Flavor Properties – SCA Cupping Form – This article is part of a group of posts that explain the ten sensory attributes of the SCA Cupping Form (or SCA Arabica Cupping Form) based on knowledge from the book Sensory Science.
In cupping, the flavor is defined as the combined perception of basic taste attributes (including sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami) and aroma qualities.
To evaluate the taste (and all subsequent properties) brewed coffee is tasted with a spoon. Most cupper puff coffee while sipping, which helps the coffee aroma to be felt throughout the mouth and nasal cavity, while facilitating the sense of smell behind the nose.
Flavors are a broad group of attributes and can be derived solely from basic tastes (sour, sweet,..) but often include more complex flavors, and are compared to other foods.
The coffee flavor circle is designed to provide a basic vocabulary of flavors at this stage, in order to standardize expression between cuppers.
During a formal review, unusual, complex, or ambiguous language should not be used. A typical set of flavor notes is simply a list of attributes such as flowers, fruits, seeds, spices, etc. common.
Flavor scoring when cupping
A good cupper needs to focus on the consistency and accuracy of these notes: They can be extremely important in valuing a coffee and are useful in a research environment.
In cases where a cupper is unsure of a particular attribute, they may use a broader description (the generic “fruit flavor“) instead of expressing a description that is confusing to others.
In the descriptive process, notes are completely neutral and only serve as clarifications for an attribute of coffee, not reflecting its quality.
After the coffee flavor has been described, the cupper will give a quality score, which is recorded on a scale of 6 to 10.
This score is based on the cupper’s estimates and experience of how the taste of the coffee will be evaluated in the market from a quality perspective.