Cupping Process

Ronnoco Coffee is coffee for people who love coffee. In fact, our master cupper, Robert Carpenter cups several samples of fresh ground coffee beans each day in his never-ending quest for the best cup of coffee. Ronnoco is so particular about coffee, that we reject between 20-30% of the coffee beans that come our way in our commitment to choose only the best beans.

Robert’s job is to select the raw product that will make the best Ronnoco coffee, as well as determine the roasting process that will coax the best flavor from the beans. He also creates our proprietary blends – over 35 of them – creating the best cups of coffee from beans from around the globe.

The most important step in a green coffee buyer’s selection of fine coffees is the taste test called cupping. It’s an intense process – not unlike wine tasting. Cupping involves a quiet concentration – a focus on all of the senses as the Master Cupper considers the many factors that will create the best cup of coffee.

The Cupping Process:

Cupping at Ronnoco is led by our Master Cupper, Robert Carpenter, who has over 25 years in the coffee industry. He learned the craft of cupping from his father, Doug Carpenter, who was Ronnoco’s previous Master Cupper and President of Ronnoco Importing.

1. Robert selects the raw green coffee beans for cupping (tasting).

2. In his cupping room, Robert roasts the beans to the desired roast and grinds them according to a specific calibration.

3. Robert places 7.25 grams (the weight of a nickel and a dime) of the ground coffee in a china cup.

4. Robert visually evaluates the dry roasted grounds for color and aroma, then pours nearly boiling water onto the ground coffee in the cup.

5. The wet coffee grounds form a cap or a crust on the surface of the cup.

6. Robert “breaks the crust” by moving his cupping spoon over the crust of the coffee and leaning down over the coffee to smell the aroma given off by the brew. This is a critical step in the evaluation of each coffee. He then leaves each cup to briefly cool, and to let the stirred grounds settle to the bottom of the cup.

7. Using his cupping spoon, Robert scoops the foam off the top of each cup and throws it in his antique brass spittoon.

8. With his silver cupping spoon, Robert takes a spoonful of coffee from the surface of the cup and forcefully inhales it into his mouth – aspirating the coffee. This is a big “slurp” combined with a gentle inhale. Robert’s goal is for the coffee to coat his entire tongue – especially in the back where the more sensitive taste buds are located. The aspiration allows Robert to better evaluate the true coffee taste, and the inhalation allows him to experience the coffee’s aroma. 

9. Robert holds the coffee in his mouth for a few seconds, before he expectorates it into his spittoon.

10. He rinses his cupping spoon in water, and repeats the process. Robert can test many cups in one session, and go back and forth between cups, comparing minute differences and nuances of taste characteristics, as well as roasting profiles, bodies, and aromas.

11. As the coffees slowly cool, Robert goes back to the coffees again, to ensure he has made a thorough evaluation.

12. Based on his cupping experience, Robert makes his assessment of the raw green coffee bean quality based on the repeated cupping taste test.