Flavor as the common thread for coffee quality along the value chain

Coffee cupping prep ©2019 Decisive Moment, NCA Convention

The role of cupping in specialty coffee

By Mario R. Fernández-Alduenda, The Coffee Quality Institute
Excerpted from The Sustainable Cultivation of Coffee
Discount available for NCA members


The popularity of coffee is still growing, but the definition of what makes a ‘good’ cup of coffee is complex.

It might be tempting to think that it is largely subjective, with so many types of coffee grown around the world, so many processes to consider throughout the value chain, and so many local and national preferences.

However, the sustainability of the industry depends on the value placed on certain types of coffee. Local economies can thrive or fail, depending on the desirability of their crop.

The growing preference for ‘specialty’ coffee, sold at a premium price, is making the quality question even more critical. The ability to distinguish specific characteristics that make some crops more desirable than standard commercial coffee has become a major consideration over the last 20 years.

Physical characteristics of the bean or cherry are not good indicators of flavor in the cup, so how is this important choice to be made?

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