Coffee cupping is a standard method used to qualify the tastes and aromas of a coffee. Here’s how you can adapt this simple and reliable process to brew championship-caliber coffee at home.

In May 2013, I experimented with a polished immersion brewing process that I referred to as the “ad hoc Clever Coffee Dripper.” Fast-forward to February 2015, and Sarah Anderson, representing Intelligentsia Coffee, is the 2015 US Brewer’s Cup Champion. In the regional rounds of the competition, Anderson won the Southwest Brewers Cup Championship by brewing Intelly’s Kenya Ngaita using a similar type of paper-filtered immersion brewing method.

Anderson based the immersion phase of her brewing method on the coffee cupping model, because this simple process produces consistent results in the cup. Prior to decanting the coffee, Anderson broke the crust and skimmed the top of the brewing vessel, another step derived from cupping, then clarified the brew by pouring it through a paper filter. Note that this sequence cannot be duplicated with a Clever Coffee Dripper. By decanting the brew into a filter, the bulk of the grounds are removed prior to filtration. With a Clever Coffee Dripper, all of the brew must pass through the bed of grounds during filtration.

The result is a sweet and full-bodied cup. Best of all, most people can replicate this championship recipe at home. Here is what you need:

  • Immersion brewing vessel (±350ml)
  • Paper filter and filter holder (V60, Kalita Wave or similar)
  • Serving or drinking vessel (±12 oz)
  • 21 grams coffee
  • 310 grams water (140 TDS) at 200°–205°F

Note that a cupping grind is typically slightly more coarse than is typically used for drip brewing. Now here are basic steps to brew championship-caliber coffee using Anderson’s polished immersion brewing method:

  • Add water to coffee in brewing vessel
  • Gently submerge grinds with spoon and wait ±5 minutes
  • Use spoons to skim top of coffee slurry
  • Pour coffee through paper filter
  • Serve and enjoy!