Cupping for the Masses, part 1

I’ve been a consistant [cupper](“Flickr: Cupping” at our local [Counter Culture Coffee]( training facility since its inception. Over the last year I’ve met all flavors of coffee drinkers, start-ups, enthusiasts, professionals, and the curious. I’ve also held informal cuppings in the home and been to [Earth Fare]( for their community tasting classes/gatherings. Over time I’ve started to have a tickle in the back of my head wondering about how cupping is carried out. Not in the formal sense but how cupping is done for different reasons down the chain from farmer to consumer and whether or not one size fits all at the consumer level.

Let me illustrate.

Coffee Chain (by ciordia9)
*Attribution: [CCC]( & [tonx]( for some photography*

This is what I approximate as the coffee chain. In general there are only three major groups. You’re either at origin, a roaster, or some form of consumer. Each of these sections have gradients that make up the processes and differing ways the bean is used.

If I had to draw a line from top to bottom at the top would be *Criticality* and at the bottom *Passion*. At origin a farmer will need to know his crop, and a green buyer is going to want its strengths, weaknesses, and defects known. Very important stuff.

As we move from green to roasting the need begins migrating from defect to consistancy. A professional has to have consistancy & quality as monikers. As we graduate further towards a consumer cupping it is no longer for a person to find a defect or to see if the roaster has done his job right (tongue-in-cheek). It’s for us to learn and be inspired.

A cupping amounts to a test-drive for a client (being coffee shop, restaurant, insert bulk buyer). Trust is very important. Both the client and roaster need to have it. A roaster wants his product to shine right in a clients care; a client gets to see, sample, and talk with one of their product links.

An enthusiast is already in love. A standard consumer (or user) is just a push away from being an enthusiast, and someone who doesn’t drink coffee regularly has a high likelihood of being inspired to drinking coffee by the way a cupping is run. Inspiration and passion. These two things are not thought of enough in our world and I give a lot of credit to [Creating Passionate Users](, for making me aware of the greater [memes](

No matter where you are in this chain, it all funnels to a consumer. A consumer who if they glow, illuminates the entire chain and can be viral in terms of promotion and marketing. Now you should see where this is going. We need to continue driving ideas down to the consumer level so that they can be further enthusiasts within the (or any) industry. We do that by better inciting their passions. In part 2 we’ll look at the current forms of consumer cupping and examine ways we can make it better. There is a lot of milage in this model. I’d like to see it eeked out even further so that we can continue to grow, explore, and enjoy all we can.

[Specialty Coffee Association of America]( is going to be in town (Charlotte) this week and I can’t wait to percolate on these and other thoughts with experts and enthusiasts alike.