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A Look At Cold Brew Coffee Cupping

Read time: 2 mins
Two people behind a cold brew cupping table setup with a snowy mountain behind them.
Christopher C. Aug 31, 2023

Does Every Coffee Work As Cold Brew?

I make two types of coffee at home: moka pot and cold brew, but I only ever buy beans intentionally for moka pot. Because I'm a cold brew addict, I inevitably use those same beans in my icy brews, but this Hail-Mary approach doesn't always work. Why? Most of Fresh Roasted Coffee's beans are cupped hot, so I don't necessarily have a baseline for whether a particular origin, roast, or blend will present well in a rocks glass. Many FRC coffees do, though! Drago, Malabar, and, above all else, Papua New Guinea Goroka make excellent cold brews, but it was trial-and-error discovering this. These coffees, like most of our coffees, are cupped hot because the intention is that our customers will brew them hot. Our cold brew blends, however, are cupped cold, a method invented by all-killer, no-filler cold brew superstar Toddy.

What's The Difference Between Hot And Cold Coffee Cupping?

While hot and cold coffee cupping are both used to assess quality, cold cupping is also about experimentation. The process allows you to play around with steep (dwell) time and even grind size to determine all the factors that will make your cold brew the best it can be. Without all the protocol, regiment, and standardization hot cuppers abide by, cold coffee cupping is, simply, drinking cold brew mindfully. You're cupping fewer coffees at a time, allowing you to search for and discover the intricacies and complexities of a particular cup. There is a handy scoring sheet, so there's some structure, but it's much less intense than hot cupping.

How Do I Cup Coffee Cold?

To show that anyone can cup cold, Abbie, our social manager who has never cupped anything before, joined Dave, a certified Q Grader with a deafening cupping slurp, in our cupping lab to taste Roastmaster's Blend. (How many times can we say cup?)*

To cup cold coffee, you will need the following:

  • 8g coarse-ground coffee, dry
  • cold brew concentrate, prepared at room temperature 8 - 24 hours prior
  • cupping spoons
  • cups of similar size
  1. Step 1:

    Start by assessing the fragrance of the ground coffee. While you won't find every note in the dry fragrance alone, it does hint at what you'll taste in the cold brew—possibly even some notes that get lost in the brewing process, too. Shake the grounds often to release fragrance trapped by the top layer of grounds.

  2. Step 2:

    Gather a small amount of cold brew on your spoon and do your darnedest to aerate it so that the liquid coats your entire tongue. This is the trickiest part. It takes practice, but you'll know once you get it because everyone within earshot will rapidly turn towards you.

  3. Step 3:

    Take in everything the coffee is telling you and jot down notes. Perhaps the real difference between cold brew cupping and just drinking cold brew, as with screwing around and science, is writing it down.

*Cup counter: 20

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