Know The Score Regarding Great Tasting Coffee
When it comes to buying coffee, you no doubt know that there are different levels of roasting and different levels of quality. What you may not know is that coffee apps are now keeping score - quite literally - on your humble cup of Joe. Used particularly in the sale of wholesale coffee, scoring allows customers to make an informed buying decision in order to save money.
What is coffee scoring?
Coffee scoring is the process of collating data from coffee enthusiasts in order to measure a coffee’s quality - kind of like TripAdvisor for your brew. Coffee scoring is based on cupping tests and allows app users to award a maximum of 100 points to a coffee based on a number of characteristics. Different kinds of establishments use different grades of coffee - you may be surprised that high street giant, Starbucks, uses coffee which scores a relatively low 81.3 on the coffee scoring scale; something to think about next time they raise their prices.
Some of the scoring characteristics
Aroma and flavour
For the perfect cup of coffee, these two characteristics go hand in hand and, one without the other rarely works (think Laurel without Hardy or Ant without Dec). Users will rate a particular coffee on its superiority (or inferiority) in these areas, noting particular flavour or aroma characteristics as they go.
Very much down to personal taste, users can give a coffee a score out of 10 for the overall sweetness of the taste.
Most coffees produce an aftertaste - and how lingering that is and, the characteristics largely depend on the bean and the roast. The score out of 10 here refers to the pleasantness of the aftertaste.
Just like a good wine, coffee can be measured in terms of body with a full bodied coffee being more rich and robust than a lighter bodied blend.
This is, of course, the most important aspect of any cup of coffee, whatever the blend, roast or body. App users will allocate points here simply to indicate their overall impression of a particular coffee.
This speaks to the texture of the coffee when you’re drinking it. Different foods and drinks have different mouthfeels - for example, ice cream has a different feel to iced tea. Coffee too can be measured in terms of mouthfeel; from the thicker, more robust mouthfeel, to the weaker and thinner variety.
The process of coffee scoring works in a similar way to television program, Masterchef, whereby the coffee begins with a perfect score, with points deducted for defects. We use the term ‘defect’ to describe negativities or taints regarding the flavour of a coffee and will result in points deducted from the overall score. The following is an example of how a coffee may be scored:
Cupping Score: 85.0
In general, a high scoring coffee will be a complex one involving notes of chocolate, fruit or even tea. As a rule, the scoring runs as follows:
65 – 79 Commodity
Essentially, this is run of the mill coffee which tends to be used for inexpensive supermarket blends and instant coffee.
80+ Speciality coffee
Describe beans of the highest quality, that are produced in special microclimates. These beans are grown at the perfect altitude, at the right time of the year, in good soil and harvested with care. Because of the attention and care that they require, specialty coffees are sold at a premium and bought by roasters or coffee traders directly.
This coffee is of an exceptional quality and the complex taste will reflect that. Less than 1% of all coffee sold is given the Presidential rating.
For the average coffee buyer, these scores are a general guide as to what to expect from the coffee being purchased and, these grades are the ones commonly found in stores. There are, however, grades up to 94+ which are truly exceptional and rare coffees - with price tags to match!
Although coffee is very much down to individual taste, a scoring app can be useful in giving you an idea of what to expect from a particular brand or blend when buying coffee online.