What is a Good Cupping Score for Coffee? Understanding the Key Measure of Coffee Quality

Coffee is undoubtedly one of the most popular beverages in the world. With its rich aroma and robust flavor, it has become a staple in many households and cafes. However, not all coffee is created equal. There are various factors that contribute to the taste and quality of coffee, and one such factor is the cupping score. In this article, I will explain what a good cupping score for coffee is and help you understand this key measure of coffee quality.

What is a cupping score?

Before we delve into the details, let’s first understand what a cupping score is. Cupping is the process of evaluating the sensory characteristics of coffee. It involves a standardized procedure where trained professionals or Q-graders taste and rate the coffee based on various attributes such as aroma, acidity, body, and flavor. The cupping score is a numerical representation of the overall quality of the coffee and is typically measured on a scale of 0 to 100.

Understanding the cupping score scale

Now that we know what a cupping score is, let’s explore the scale used to measure coffee quality. A cupping score of 80 or above is considered excellent and represents specialty-grade coffee. Specialty coffee is known for its unique flavors, exceptional quality, and distinctive characteristics. Coffees with scores ranging from 85 to 100 are considered outstanding and are highly sought after by coffee enthusiasts around the world.

A cupping score of 80 to 84 is considered very good and signifies that the coffee is of high quality. These coffees exhibit well-balanced flavors and are often enjoyed by a wide range of consumers. Coffees scoring between 75 and 79 are considered good and are typically used for everyday consumption. While they may lack some complexity and depth, they still offer a satisfying coffee experience.

However, it’s important to note that cupping scores below 70 are generally considered to be of lower quality. These scores indicate defects or flaws in the coffee, such as an unpleasant taste, inconsistent flavors, or lack of complexity. Coffees with scores in this range are often used for blending or instant coffee production rather than for standalone consumption.

The factors influencing cupping scores

Several factors contribute to the cupping scores of coffee. These factors include the origin of the coffee beans, the altitude at which they are grown, the processing methods employed, and the roasting technique used. Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors:


The region in which coffee is grown plays a significant role in its quality. Different regions have varying climates, soil compositions, and growing conditions that impact the flavor profile of the coffee. For example, coffees from Ethiopia are known for their fruity and floral flavors, while those from Brazil tend to have nutty and chocolatey undertones.


The altitude at which coffee is cultivated also affects its cupping score. Coffee grown at higher altitudes tends to have a more complex and vibrant flavor profile. The cooler temperatures and slower growth at higher altitudes allow the coffee cherries to develop more sugars, resulting in a sweeter and more flavorful cup of coffee.

Processing methods:

The processing method used after harvesting the coffee cherries can greatly influence the cupping score. There are various methods, including washed, natural, and honey processed. Each method imparts different flavors and characteristics to the coffee. For example, washed coffees are known for their clarity and brightness, while natural processed coffees often have a fruitier and more full-bodied profile.

Roasting technique:

The way coffee beans are roasted also impacts the cupping score. Different roast profiles can enhance or diminish certain flavors in the coffee. Lighter roasts tend to preserve the natural acidity and delicate flavors, while darker roasts develop deeper, smokier notes.

Why does the cupping score matter?

You may be wondering why the cupping score is important and how it affects your coffee experience. Well, the cupping score provides a standardized measure of coffee quality. When you see a coffee with a higher cupping score, you can expect a superior and more enjoyable cup of coffee. It ensures consistency and helps consumers make informed decisions when purchasing coffee.

Additionally, the cupping score is essential for coffee producers and exporters. A higher cupping score can command higher prices in the market, benefiting the farmers who put in the effort to produce exceptional coffee. It also helps cultivate a culture of quality and encourages the continuous improvement of coffee production methods.


In conclusion, the cupping score is a crucial measure of coffee quality. It provides a standardized and objective assessment of a coffee’s sensory characteristics, allowing consumers to make informed choices. A good cupping score ranges from 80 to 84, while scores above 85 are considered outstanding. Various factors, such as origin, altitude, processing methods, and roasting techniques, influence the cupping score. So, the next time you savor a cup of coffee, you’ll be able to appreciate the effort that went into achieving that perfect cupping score. Cheers to a flavorful coffee experience!

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