Are you particular about the cup you use to drink your coffee? Ever wondered why your morning brew tastes divine in one cup and 'meh' in another? Let's explore how your choice of cup can change your coffee experience a topic hotter than a freshly brewed espresso shot, especially among the coffee elite.  From Brewer's Cup to Barista Showdowns, the debate rages on: Does your choice of cup truly impact the taste of your beloved coffee, and if so, how? 

Let's start by being clear that I'm not talking about milk or water to espresso ratio. That's covered here: Brew Ratios in Espresso. I'm more talking about vessel. Tea masters and sommeliers have long understood the importance of selecting the right vessel. After all, you wouldn't serve a Riesling in a Burgundy glass (unless you're as curious as I am guilty as charged!) So should we apply the same principle to coffee? 

Now, the realm of 'post-extraction variables' is where everything from cup size, colour, material and rim thickness can alter your coffee experience. We conducted a quick sensory experiment involving two different filter coffees and three different cups: 

1. A navy blue ceramic cup with a thick rim from Loveramics 

2. A cafe-style short glass with a thin rim (slightly wider than the ceramic cup)

3. A trusty takeaway paper cup with a plastic lid and a narrow sipping hole 

We assessed three different categories; aroma, body, balance/flavours from the three cups. 

So, are there differences? Yes there is! Like your coffee fruity and bright? Go for the glass/thin rim. Prefer it sweet and smooth? Grab the ceramic mug/thicker rim. Now, the flavours the differences aren't earth-shattering. You might taste a particular flavour in one cup over another but we're not talking "fudgy caramel" versus "delicate florals" here. The cup might simply enhance one of the sensory notes described in the coffee over another. 

So what's the takeaway from all this cupping magic? Explore! Discovering which cup I liked helped me understand what I like in a coffee and what I should be buying. Discovering your cup preference might just lead you to the coffee of your dreams. Remember, taste is subjective it's all about awareness. Nothing is right or wrong. It just, is. Whether you prefer your brew bursting with acidity or dripping with sweetness, there's a cup out there with your name on it and if you love it, keep it! 

For baristas and cafe owners out there, which cups should you choose? Now, before you toss out all your glasses and mugs, understand that certain cups might suit different coffees you want to showcase. Your choice of vessel can elevate the customer experience and spark conversation. Here are a few things to think about: 

  • With filtered coffees you may choose to have 2 different sets of cups depending on the coffee you have on offer. E.g. Washed coffees in a glass cup and Naturals in a ceramic cup. 
  • Use your team to decide on a cup! Your collective opinions will create more of a connection to the coffee and you will feel more comfortable talking about it with your customers. 
  • Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. When you're dialing in first thing in the morning, drink the coffee in the cup you will be serving for the day so you can provide your own personal experience with your customers. Do you taste pineapple moreover lemon? Tell your customers! 

When it comes to assessing coffee, enter with an open mind. If you're keen to up your sensory game, check out our Advanced Sensory Development course! 

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