News from the Cupping Table

  • Why Your Home-Brewed Coffee Might Taste Bad

    Why Your Home-Brewed Coffee Might Taste Bad


    Ah, the comforting aroma of freshly brewed coffee—there's nothing quite like it to kickstart your day. However, if your home-brewed coffee doesn't quite live up to the taste of your favorite coffee shop, you might be wondering what's going wrong. Fear not! In this blog article, we'll explore some common factors that could be contributing to the less-than-satisfying flavor of your coffee.

    Title: Common Culprits:

    Poor Quality Beans

    The foundation of great coffee always begins with the quality of the beans. If you're using old, stale, or low-grade beans, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Coffee beans are at their best within a few weeks of roasting, and as they age, they lose their flavor and aroma. All good coffee shops will serve specialty grade coffee so to ensure a better-tasting brew at home, always opt for fresh, 100% Arabica specialty coffee beans and store them properly in an airtight container away from light and moisture. Avoid storing in the refrigerator or freezer where they will absorb odors that will affect their flavor.

    Incorrect Coffee-to-Water Ratio

    Getting the right coffee-to-water ratio is crucial for a well-balanced cup of coffee. Using too little coffee grounds can result in a weak and watery brew, while using too much can lead to a bitter and overpowering taste. A standard starting point is using about 1 to 2 tablespoons of coffee per 6 ounces of water, but feel free to adjust based on your preference. Only you can decide the best ratio to use to satisfy your taste preference.

    Inconsistent Grind Size

    The grind size of your coffee beans has a significant impact on the extraction process. If the coffee grounds are too coarse, the water may pass through too quickly, resulting in a weak and underwhelming flavor. On the other hand, overly fine grounds can lead to over-extraction, causing a bitter and unpleasant taste. Blade grinders will produce an inconsistent grounds size and overgrinding with these high-speed blades can burn the coffee grounds. We recommend investing in a quality burr grinder to achieve a consistent grind size suitable for your chosen brewing method.

    Water Quality

    Surprisingly, the water you use to brew your coffee can make a big difference in taste. If your tap water has a strong odor, taste, or contains impurities, it will affect the final cup. Use filtered or bottled water  (spring water, not distilled) to minimize any unwanted flavors and ensure a cleaner, more enjoyable brew.

    Brewing Time and Temperature

    The length of time your coffee brews and the water temperature are crucial factors to consider. Over-extraction from a prolonged brewing time can lead to bitterness, while under-extraction can result in a sour or weak taste. Aim for a brewing time of around 3-4 minutes for most methods like drip, pour-over, or French press. Additionally, water that is too hot (over 205°F or 96°C) can scorch the coffee, so keep your water temperature in the “Goldilocks zone” between 195°F and 205°F (90°C to 96°C).

    Using the Wrong Brewing Method

    Different coffee beans and roasts excel with various brewing methods. Using the wrong brewing technique might not bring out the best in your coffee. For example, some beans shine in a pour-over, while others are better suited for a French press or espresso machine. Experiment with different methods to find the one that complements your beans' flavor profile.

    Equipment Cleanliness

    Neglecting to clean your coffee equipment regularly can negatively impact the flavor of your coffee. Old coffee oils and residues can accumulate in your coffee maker or grinder, leading to rancid and bitter notes in your brew. Make it a habit to clean your coffee maker, French press, and grinder according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Simple solutions of water and vinegar are great for descaling.


    Achieving a perfect cup of home-brewed coffee takes a combination of art and science. By paying attention to the quality of your beans, mastering the right coffee-to-water ratio, using consistent grind sizes, selecting clean and filtered water, and controlling brewing time and temperature, you'll be well on your way to a superior coffee experience. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don't be afraid to experiment and tailor your coffee brewing process to suit your taste preferences. Check out our Perfect Cup here. Happy brewing!

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  • Wake Up and Smell the Truth: How Bad Coffee Is Taken for Granted

    Wake Up and Smell the Truth: How Bad Coffee Is Taken for Granted


    For an overwhelming majority of the population, coffee is part of a daily routine. Worldwide consumption is estimated at around 2 billion cups per day. If you are like me, you look forward to that first cup in the morning to get you going. But because grabbing a cup of joe and running off to our day is so much of a ritual, we often settle for a poor quality brew. And at the same time it's easy to overlook the negative impact that consuming poor quality coffee can have on our lives. In this article, we will explore some reasons why I believe that our daily coffee can be taken for granted and hopefully shed light on the consequences of consuming low-quality brews.

    1. Sacrificing Quality for Convenience

    In our fast-paced world, convenience often triumphs over quality. Instant coffee and pre-packaged coffee pods have gained popularity due to their ease of use and time-saving benefits. However, the convenience comes at the expense of flavor and freshness. Mass-produced coffee often lacks the complex flavors and nuances found in specialty coffee. By settling for the convenience of preparing a quick cup, we are missing out on the true coffee experience.

    2. Unseen Health Risks

    All coffee beans offer certain health benefits when consumed in moderation.  Yet there can be unseen risks in poor-quality beans, which may contain higher levels of contaminants, such as pesticides, mold, and toxins. Additionally, low-quality roasting processes can lead to the formation of harmful compounds, including increased levels of  acrylamide, which has been linked to various health issues. To be clear, all coffee contains acrylamide, but fresh roasted coffee contains far less than instant coffee, for example. The bottom line is that by disregarding the quality of our coffee, we might be compromising our well-being without even realizing it.

    3. Impact on the Environment

    The coffee industry, particularly mass production, contributes to significant environmental damage. Cheaper coffees often come from large-scale, monoculture farms that rely heavily on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. These practices lead to soil degradation, deforestation, and water pollution, posing a threat to ecosystems and biodiversity. By opting for better-quality specialty coffee produced through sustainable and ethical practices, we can support a healthier planet.

    4. Economic Fairness

    Another aspect often overlooked when it comes to where we source our coffee is the impact it has on the coffee farmers themselves. Cheap coffee tends to come from large-scale plantations that prioritize quantity over quality. These practices often exploit workers and pay them unfairly. By consciously choosing ethically sourced coffee and supporting fair-trade initiatives, we can contribute to a more equitable coffee industry and improve the livelihoods of farmers.

    5. Missed Flavor Adventures

    One of the joys of coffee lies in its diverse flavors and profiles. Poor quality coffee often lacks complexity, depth, and unique tasting notes that can be found in higher-quality beans. By settling for subpar brews, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to explore the world of coffee fully. Each origin, roast level, and brewing method unlocks a new experience, providing a delightful journey for our taste buds.

    6. Underappreciating the Craft

    Behind every cup of good coffee lies the dedication and expertise of coffee farmers, roasters, and baristas. Specialty coffee is the result of a meticulous process, from growing and harvesting the beans to roasting them to perfection and finally brewing a delightful cup. By consuming bad coffee without considering the craftsmanship involved, we fail to acknowledge and support the hard work of those in the coffee industry who strive for excellence.


    I believe there are consequences to consuming bad coffee without considering its sourcing and quality. By sacrificing flavor, health, and the environment, we miss out on the true potential of this beloved beverage. It's time to shift our focus towards appreciating the craftsmanship, supporting sustainable practices, and indulging in the richness of high-quality coffee. So, let's wake up and smell the truth—bad coffee should no longer be taken for granted.

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  • What makes specialty coffee different?

    What makes specialty coffee different?

    Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, with billions of cups consumed daily. However, not all coffee is created equal. Specialty coffee has gained popularity in recent years, with coffee enthusiasts flocking to cafes and coffee shops that offer high-quality, artisanal brews. We are often asked what makes specialty coffee different from other types of coffee? Here are some brief, but important distinctions.

    First, let's define what specialty coffee is. Specialty coffee is coffee that has been rated by a certified coffee taster or Q grader with a score of 80 or above on a 100-point scale. This means that specialty coffee is of exceptional quality, with unique flavor profiles, and is produced using high-quality beans.

    Now, let's look at the key differences between specialty coffee and other types of coffee:

    Quality of beans

    Specialty coffee is made from high-quality beans that are grown in ideal conditions. These beans are carefully selected and harvested by farmers who understand the importance of picking only the best beans. The beans are then roasted by skilled roasters who know how to bring out the unique flavor profiles of each batch of beans. In contrast, non-specialty coffee often uses lower quality beans that are mass-produced and lack the unique flavor and aroma of specialty coffee.

    Cupping Coffee

    The Roasting process

    Roasting is a crucial step in the coffee-making process that greatly affects the final flavor of the coffee. Specialty coffee roasters use a careful and meticulous roasting process that brings out the unique flavors and aromas of the beans. The roasting process is carefully timed and monitored to ensure that the beans are not over-roasted or under-roasted to achieve the light, medium or dark profile best suited for the specific beans. Non-specialty coffee, on the other hand, often uses a more mass-produced roasting process that may result in inconsistent flavor profiles.


    Freshness is another key factor that sets specialty coffee apart from other types of coffee. Specialty coffee is often roasted in small batches to ensure that the coffee is always fresh. The beans are typically roasted and packaged within a few days of being harvested, which helps to preserve the flavor and aroma of the coffee. In contrast, non-specialty coffee is often roasted and packaged in large batches, which can lead to staleness and a loss of flavor.

    Unique flavor profiles

    Much like wine or craft beer, specialty coffee is known for its unique flavor profiles, which are the result of careful selection, roasting, and brewing. Each batch of specialty coffee has its own distinct flavor and aroma, with notes of chocolate, fruit, nuts, and spices. Non-specialty coffees often have a more generic flavor profile that lacks the depth and complexity of specialty coffee.

    Ethical and sustainable sourcing

    Finally, specialty coffee is often sourced from ethical and sustainable producers who prioritize the well-being of their workers and the environment. Specialty coffee farmers are paid a fair price for their beans and are encouraged to use environmentally friendly farming practices. Non-specialty coffee, on the other hand, may be sourced from less ethical and sustainable producers who prioritize profit over social and environmental responsibility.

    Specialty coffee is not just a marketing buzzword. It is made from high-quality beans that are carefully selected, roasted, and brewed to produce a unique flavor profile. You’ll be please to know that specialty coffee from Cupper’s Choice is always sourced from ethical and sustainable producers, making it a great choice for coffee lovers who care about quality and sustainability.

    Try some today and taste the difference.

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  • Traditional Coffee Processing Methods

    Traditional Coffee Processing Methods

    Types of coffee processing

    The coffee you may be drinking while reading this has gone through many steps to find its way to your cup. From its start as a humble seed, 5-6 years have transpired before any coffee cherries can be harvested for processing. Perhaps the caffeine has stimulated your thinking to wonder how coffee is processed post-harvesting to prepare the beans to be roasted and brewed? This brief overview will discuss the three ways that coffee is traditionally processed: washed, natural, and honey. There are other methods employed, but these three are the most common.

    Washed Coffees

    Washed coffees focus solely on the bean inside the coffee cherry that is picked from the plant. Washed coffees let you taste what’s on the inside, not the outside.

    A natural or honey processed coffee requires a very flavorful coffee cherry, including the outer layers. In contrast, washed coffees depend heavily on the bean absorbing enough natural sugars and nutrients during its growing cycle. This makes many factors important when selecting this processing method, including the varietal, the soil, weather, ripeness, fermentation, washing, and drying are all key.

    Washed coffees reflect both the science involved in growing coffee, as well as the expertise of the farmers who are an integral part of crafting its taste. With washed coffees, the country of origin and environmental conditions add to the flavor.

    This means that the washed process highlights the true character of a single origin bean like no other process. It’s why so many specialty coffees are washed.

    A downside of washed coffees is the high volume of water required to process enough beans for just one of cup – approximately 35-40 gallons. This number is not consistent across all growing regions but is an average.

    Natural/Dry Processed Coffee

    The natural process, also known as the dry process, has its origins in Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee. In this process, the fruit remains on the bean, and dries naturally. Although it needs less investment in equipment and labor, it still requires certain climatic conditions to ensure the proper drying of the fruit and seed.

    Over time, the natural process has become considered a lower-quality method that can lead to inconsistent flavors. This inconsistency is often the result of unripe fruit drying and turning brown alongside ripe fruits.

    That said, this process has the potential to create extremely flavorful coffees, especially if consistency in choosing only the ripe fruit for processing is achieved. Many coffee producers believe natural coffees can match washed coffees for clarity and provides some more interesting tasting notes and characteristics as well. 

    And a big plus is that the natural coffee is the most eco-friendly, primarily from the savings in water usage over washed methods.

    Honey/Pulped Natural Coffee

    When done right, honey processed coffee can literally taste like someone has put honey and brown sugar in your cup of coffee – although the name comes from how sticky the beans get during processing. In many ways, this type of coffee is halfway between a washed coffee and a natural process coffee. It’s fruity, but not in as exaggerated a way as some natural processed coffees. It often has a more rounded acidity than washed coffees, with intense sweetness and complex mouthfeel.

    The honey process is strongly associated with Costa Rica including subcategories such as yellow, red, golden, black, and white honey. This reflects the ability that the honey process has in influencing the taste and overall profile of a coffee. It can become a highly scientific process by monitoring and controlling the level of mucilage (the fruity layer between the coffee cherry and the outer skin) which influences the sweetness and depth of body of the coffee. Typically, the more mucilage left on the bean, the sweeter the taste.

    Deciding on what process to use

    Most coffee producers want to produce the most profitable and best-tasting coffee they can, but their environment limits them. Coffee, more so than most foodstuff, has a very close bond to its surrounding environment.

    Producers will often wait to see how much rain has fallen before deciding whether to produce washed, honey, or natural coffee. Heavy rain makes it harder to produce good natural process because coffee cherries can start splitting. If it hasn’t rained, conditions are great for honey process or natural process because no sugars will get washed away.

    Producers often use refractometers to measure sugar content. This helps decide if the sugar content is high enough for natural processed or honey processed coffee.


    Coffee processing rarely makes it into the headlines or cafĂ© discussions, but it’s an integral part of crafting the flavor and character of your cup of coffee. So next time you pick up a honey processed Costa Rican or a natural processed Nicaraguan, you’ll know what to look forward to.


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