Cupping Form for Analyzing/Evaluating Roast

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Postby ChrisSchooley » Thu Sep 02, 2010 9:39 am

Marty brought this up in the RGR class feedback thread, and I had been thinking about this a lot at retreat this year. The SCAA cupping form is designed for evaluating green coffee, and I feel like we need a form that evaluates roast.

I would say that the average score of the 6 coffees used for this years retreat challenge was around 86-88, very fortunate to work with this nice coffees. The problem is that in the judging of these coffees the average score drops to 82, and on top of that there are some instances where these very nice 86-88 point coffees scored in the 90's by some judges. I realize that the high scores are a function of a competition and judges wanting to reward the coffees that they liked so that they could win. I think that if we had a roast evaluation cupping form then scoring an 88 point coffee with a 95 point roast could actually make sense. The fact of the matter is that the coffee itself should be one or at least a close range of scores (obviously this shifts over time), but in looking at the same coffee through the lens of many different roasts those scores have a dramatic range.

The common retort to this is probably that you make these adjustments in the Overall space on the SCAA form, but I feel like this falls short. The other main problem is how can we evaluate roasts without passing judgment on different roast styles and personal taste? I feel like at this point in our industry that we can be honest with ourselves and punish baked coffees along with other roaster caused defects (identified in the Identifying Roast Defects class). But we would need to really look at a plus/minus range as far as how the roast level either helps or hurts certain characteristics of the coffee. We could even design the form so that you reference the green evaluation and decide if the roast (that could be similar or different than the original sample roast level used for evaluation of the green) helps or hurts the body, acidity, flavor, or other characteristics.

Anyway, I want to hear what other people are thinking about this. I do really think that this could be an invaluable tool for production roasting and in classroom contexts, along with setting a bar (not standard, which I think is dangerous) for quality roasting.

Does anyone know what Ken Davids uses for Coffee Review? Is he evaluating the coffee or the roast?

I'll throw one more log on the fire here in order to get the discussion going in a couple different ways. I think that if the roast level obstructs or diminishes flavors and characteristics that are present in green coffee evaluation ( we'll simply call it sample roast from here on in) then the roast score should go down. Of course, what if these characteristics are age or other off flavors that the roast level blocks and the level actually brings a little sweetness out?
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Postby Shawn H » Thu Sep 02, 2010 10:30 am

Schooley _
You are right here. I think there needs to be a couple of forms
Green Coffee evaluation form
Roasted coffee evaluation form
Competition form

The current form is too cumbersome to use on a daily basis for evaluating green samples. So I think there should be a simplified form for daily use.

That form does not perform well for roasted (production level) product as you have pointed out and there should be a different form for that.

The current form is closer to a competition form and could likely be used for that with a few tweaks..
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Postby timd » Thu Sep 02, 2010 10:35 am

A two score system might actually solve this problem. The SCAA form could take into account the fundamental score of the coffee itself. As you point out, it is geared towards an initial green evaluation.

Then you have the evaluation of the roasting. In the case of a RG competition, you've established the scores for the coffee ahead of time. Lets say a range of 85-87 points for the three coffees available. All things being averaged, we could say the baseline is 86 points for the raw material handed to your team.

Once the coffee is blended and roasted the score can travel up or down based on the skills of the teams. Some of the coffees submitted were burnt and obviously the 86 point coffee did not show up in the cup because it was masked by roasting defects. Offering evaluators a scale to reward or ding the production element makes sense.

Blending the coffees can enhance the overall cup profile as well. A medley of three 85-87 point coffees could easily turn into a sum greater than the parts. Envision going to see Miles Davis play solo, could it not be a little better if you had Thelonious Monk and Ron Carter on stage with him? The coffees play off each other, fill holes and rise up. Conversely, if you put a drunk Perry Farrell on stage with a dope-sick Cobain and sleepless Flea you can get a cacophony that makes you want to throw bottles at them. A poorly assembled blend can accentuate the gaps and inundate you with negative aspects of each coffee.

For the purposes of the RG event you can score a set of coffees on their elemental merits using the SCAA form then devise a formula to evaluate how much you enhanced or decreased the value by roasting and blending. I'm not sure how you can practically introduce this into the community at large because as you noted, coffees change and age differently. Over the course of a weekend this is not an issue.

Do you create a 100 point scale for roasting and blending then average it with the SCAA cupping score, or is their more weight placed on the roasting and blending aspects? This would be fun to flesh out ahead of the next RG retreat but I am not sure if it is something that can be applied on a daily basis to coffees.
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Postby Scapistrant » Thu Sep 02, 2010 4:38 pm

Shawn H wrote:Schooley _
You are right here. I think there needs to be a couple of forms
Green Coffee evaluation form
Roasted coffee evaluation form
Competition form

The current form is too cumbersome to use on a daily basis for evaluating green samples. So I think there should be a simplified form for daily use.

That form does not perform well for roasted (production level) product as you have pointed out and there should be a different form for that.

The current form is closer to a competition form and could likely be used for that with a few tweaks..


Shawn,
We use a simplified form developed by Chris Schooley and Caleb Mayhall, PM me if you want to take a look...we use it quite often. And it's very helpful for beginners.

Chris,
Wouldn't you sway that roast level is slightly intrinsic to the scaa cupping form, well in a way. If i roast the accidity out of a coffee,would the score not suffer to some degree. I agree with you, roast level scoring is crucial. But can we quantify it? Or are we basically creating an 'analog' agtron/color track?
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Postby ChrisSchooley » Thu Sep 02, 2010 5:41 pm

That's what I'm getting at, Sean, that the score would suffer. But as it stands, is that score reflective of the coffee or the roast? The form is devised to be an evaluation of the coffee itself, so an improper roast produces an unjust score for the coffee. I think we owe it to the coffees to be able to measure how the roast helps or hinders it. You can use most of the same criteria though.

Tim, I do think there can be some practical use in QC of production roasts, measuring against what you know the range that that coffee should score. As far as blending, that would need to be an entirely separate evaluation as you state, and I'm glad you bring it up. I'm kinda against cupping blends as it is. How can you honestly give a blend uniformity points out of 5 cups unless each cup was individually blended? We should create a non-cupping standard (french-press) for evaluating a blend. That 90's super group sounds terrifying, but I've totally tasted that blend. I'm not sure how I feel about the averaging idea, though I do think that having a bunch of different scores would be confusing.

Shawn, you're totally right about the form being too cumbersome for daily use. Almost everyone else I know uses a different form. This maybe speaks volumes about the form in general.
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Postby Marty G Curtis » Thu Sep 02, 2010 5:51 pm

My comments are going to be geared more for looking at designing a new form.
1. production cupping
2 competition roasting

Competition Roasting cupping form
Roast should be a score 0-10 but here is were it gets tricky. this is a taste or flavor that you are trying to bring out in the coffee to make this coffee come alive. This what you like about the coffee flavor. Know lets look at two very good points. Both of these are correct for the same answer.
Normally coffee drinkers in an age group of say 17-35 years old will like very high acidity coffee.
Were coffee drinkers in an age group of say 50 and older may not like the acidity

OK now if we had a form that is designed for Roasting Competition. Maybe we start out by sample roasting the coffee to see what we have to work with than. Than the person/team says OK we want the coffee to taste and they explain what they are trying get from the coffee. If you do that than the roast level can be a score of 0-10 base on how well they roast the coffee to their ideal profile. Also you need to make sweetness a score 6-10 than maybe combine uniformity and clean cup.
I think that we need to be looking at roast but in a way that you the roaster-person is able to interpret the coffee he or she is roasting.
Roasting is an art ( coffee being the canvas) and the Roast-person is the Artist we need to evaluate this in that manner.
Another way to look at this BBQ some like smoke with OAK some like with Hickory and some like hot and spicy, and some like it sweet and Smokey

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Postby chris7wade » Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:00 pm

Having a cupping form for production roasts would be a great thing. It is really hard to evaluate a darker roast through cupping. Anything that is well into the second crack develops a roasty flavor that might not be present in brewed coffee. I find this to be a problem when choosing a roast profile by cupping. It is a common thing to pick the roast that is closest to a cupping roast due to the fact that it preforms better on the table. The problem is when it is brewed it tastes either vegetable like or grassy. There are some coffees that handle light roasts beautifully but it doesn't work for everyone all the time.

I would love to see something to address this.
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Postby rojo » Fri Sep 03, 2010 11:07 am

Why not look into a "brewed" coffee form rather than cupping... I know that cupping is generally for evaluating coffee roasted for that evaluation and coffee roasted darker fails these evaluations frequently. The experience brewed, however is very different.. the gustation, the aftertaste, the lack of aspirating... the question of brewing method would be critical but I think brewing and drinking works better with production roasts than cupping,,...fundamentally.
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Postby ChrisSchooley » Sun Sep 05, 2010 10:22 am

Ryan has a strong point, but how can we approach this in a way that doesn't totally fracture everything off into different tangents. Let's break down roughly what we have so far with maybe a few other added items:

1. Production Roast evaluation forms and evaluation method
2. Blending evaluation forms and evaluation method
3. Espresso evaluation forms
4. Competition forms

Do people feel like the COE form works well for competition (I've always liked it, but haven't honestly used it in a while)?

I feel that in blending evaluation, the components of the blend have to be revealed and evaluated separately first. So again you would be looking at 2 or more scores in reference to the score of the blend.

Does the USBC, WBC use an SCAA standardized evaluation form for espresso? I mean, I know that the judging is standardized, but can the espresso evaluation component of that be lifted out of that context and used in day to day evaluation?

There are a lot of different tangents here, but one thing that I would really like to focus on is being able to identify roaster caused defects along with whether the degree of roast, light or dark, helps or hinders the cup. Again, this isn't about setting a roasting standard which I feel is dangerous and anathema to what the guild stands for, but rather to set a bar for quality and allow us to honestly analyze our roasts in order to learn and improve on what we do.
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Postby Marty G Curtis » Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:40 pm

Competition forms, like COE, yes it works for what it was designed for I feel and that was to fine the very best green coffee roasted to a sample roast. The roast person is taught or instructed to roast all the coffees to a sample roast and if I'm not mistaken they use the SCAA protocol for sample roasting. So this to me is a green coffee competition form.

Roast Competition form should be a way to taste the coffee. Maybe this form will have a base like you will be tasting this coffee using a Clever dripper or Fresh Press or another brew method but you would know that going into the competition just like the COE has a base that all coffee be sample roast.
Also this type of competition you would first have to sample roast the coffee to see what it has and score range, than you have to decide how to roast the coffee to get the very best with what ever brew method you will be judge on. Or the coffee is sample roasted correctly and given in a class with you and your peers to all cup and score the coffee so everyone will be tasting the same coffees sample roasted. At that point you would be told here is the coffee you will be given to roast and we will be tasting the coffee on X brew system. I believe than we can make a form that would have a scoring for how well you roasted the coffee and also a section for roasting defects or maybe one of the same?
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