We recommend dosing between 50 g/L and 65 g/L when cupping. The SCA protocol stipulates 55 g/L (SCA.coffee). It has been our experience that almost every cupping room and roastery we visit uses a brew ratio of 55 g/L. If you adopt an eccentric recipe when cupping, it may make it more difficult for you to cup when you visit cupping sessions at other roasteries or cafes. We find that our palates have become calibrated to a particular range of strength for different beverage types. Specifically, we expect total dissolved solids concentrations between 1% and 1.4%. It would be confusing to encounter a cupping bowl that was unexpectedly weaker or stronger.
At BH, we never alter the brew ratio we use for cupping, and we always use the same type of cupping bowl, designed to accommodate 180 grams (a little more than 6 oz.) of hot water. This way, we know that when the intensity level of a coffee is too low, it implicates something to do with the roasted coffee rather than our brewing method.
In recent times it has become more common for baristas to use scales to measure the quantity of water they use when brewing. The weighing of doses and brew water is essential for cupping. The only instance in which we do not consider scales essential is when you have several replicates of the same sample — for example, five cups, as the SCA protocols require. In this situation, you are achieving a good randomisation of slightly underpoured and slightly overpoured bowls, so the resulting average will be more equal than if you were using just one or two bowls per sample. If you are cupping with only one or two bowls, it is absolutely essential that you use scales.
How Much Brew Water?
Most cupping recipes call for small volumes of water to be used. In general, the more you scale down your brew ratio to include less brew water,