A big part of our job here at Swing’s is making sure that you are getting the best coffee possible, and we are producing it consistently. That all sounds fine and well, but how is it done? The answer: cupping.

“Cupping” is a weird term that we’re stuck with and if we had our druthers, It’d be called something even more boring, but more descriptive, “receptor evaluation.”

But why “receptor”? Well, when we cup coffee for purchase, quality control or consistency, we are really engaging large parts of our olfactory system – somewhere around 70%. The two parts that are critical to taste are known as ortho-nasal and retro-nasal receptors, which help us discern the sense-feeling we get when we draw in through our nose and respectively breathe out through the same cavity.

The Nose Knows

But what does it know, really? Isn’t the point of putting something in our mouth to taste it with our mouth? Like the point of touching something to feel it? Turns out – evolutionary – we aren’t that savvy. That being said, there is much to speak about when we’re talking about your tongue.

The tongue is a muscle coated in receptors called papillae. And not all papillae are the same. In fact, they are a wildly different, but narrowly focused group, and generally speaking, they are scattered across the tongue, having the highest populations on the top of the tongue. And from the below image you can see their shapes vary just as wildly as the things they perceive.


We will go in-depth in a future post about sense receptors – what they detect, what they miss, and how to turn their detection into words. On that note, below let me introduce to you the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s coffee flavor wheel as a little bit of homework.

 scaa flavor wheel