Fragrance and Aroma
You might think these two are synonyms. In reality, fragrance refers to the smell of ground coffee when it’s still dry, while aroma stands for the smell that the coffee releases once it gets infused in hot water.
This is the most distinct taste of the coffee, its signature. It carries its trail from the palate into the nose. The higher the quality score, the more well-developed notes of cherry, peach, or even blackcurrant the coffee will present.
This is defined as the length of the flavor once the coffee has been swallowed. The longer the pleasant trail, the better the score. If the q-graders sense abrupt changes after the coffee has been knocked back, they will grade the coffee with a lower score.
Highly praised coffees are usually not intensely acidic, but the score depends on the coffee variant. Kenyan coffee is expected to be higher in acidity. Sumatran coffee, on the other hand, falls under the lower acidity side of the scale. So if a cup of Sumatran coffee results higher in acidity, it might receive a lower score.
Think of this as mouthfeel. Some coffees will have a more noticeable viscosity, while others will be more watery. The 5 cups need to show the same consistency in mouthfeel to get a high body quality score
As with life in general, balance is everything. Coffee that creates a joyful equilibrium between acidity, aroma, flavor, and aftertaste will score higher. If any of the traits seem overpowering or too feeble, the q-grader will take the score down a notch.
Coffee contains sugars naturally. So it’s expected to sense a level of sweetness during cupping. However, this should not explode into something resembling a soda drink. A balanced level of sweetness can earn the coffee up to 2 points on the quality score.
This value refers to the uniformity of taste, from the first sip to the aftertaste. If the Q-graders notice any funny aromas or flavors, even the slightest hint, they will disqualify the cup from getting a clean cup score.
Uniformity of the sample refers to the consistency of the flavor among the five tasting cups. If any of the cups have a noticeably different flavor, the cupping score will be lower.
This is where the graders can show their personal consideration. The more the sample reflects the typical features based on its origin, the higher the score.
Defects (yes, again)
As with green bean appraisal, the panelists can detract the points during cupping, too. A defect in the cupping can either be a taint or a fault. Every tainted cup will set the score back by 2 points, while a faulty one will set the score back by 4 points.