COVID-19 Update: Modified Cupping Protocols issued by SCA

COVID-19 Update: Modified Cupping Protocols issued by SCA

COVID-19 has had far reaching impact on the coffee community as covered in our recent article: Coffee community must support at-risk producers.

Cupping, the standardised sensory process for sampling and assessing quality of green beans, is not exempt from these changes.

Tasting batch-brewed coffee, rather than traditional cupping, is encouraged as a preferred alternative where multiple coffee tasters are participating. Where the coffee-grading function of the cupping protocol is very important however, the Speciality Coffee Association (SCA) has issued modified cupping protocol with input from cupping experts and institutions.

The SCA anticipate the evolution of this modified protocol and will continue to collaborate with health and sensory experts and receive feedback from the coffee community.

The SCA recognises that this protocol may be difficult to adopt for experienced cuppers and recommends having additional staff available to monitor the cupping. The SCA further recommend cupping fewer samples when using this method and sampling earlier as the “double transfer” element of the protocol cools samples more quickly.

For those who wish to avoid cupping, it is recommend that batch-brew coffees be made available for tasting.


Modified SCA Cupping Protocols


  • Provide each cupping participant with a cupping spoon and an individual shot glass upon arrival. Note: The spoon should not touch your mouth or drinking cup.
  • Place sample cups on cupping tables; a lead should clear the crust with a clean spoon.
  • Approach the cupping bowl with your spoon and spoon a sample from the bowl into your shot glass.
  • Taste directly from your shot glass. The spoon will not be used for tasting, only to transfer the sample to individual cups. Don’t forget, the spoon should not touch your mouth or drinking cup.
  • Provide hot water and dump buckets in between samples for rinsing coffee out of the shot glasses. In between samples, rinse spoons in a rinse cup. Remember, spoons should only be used for transferring coffee.
  • Backup spoons and cups should be made available for those who might need a replacement during the cupping.
  • Sanitise cupping table surfaces in between sessions.

View printable version of the SCA’s Modified Cupping Protocols

In response to heightened health and safety protocols now active in Victoria, Langdon Coffee Merchants’ South Melbourne Coffee Lab will not be conducting customer cupping sessions until further notice, however, we welcome requests for samples and are able to post these directly to those interested.

Request a sample from LCM