The Coffee Chooses The Cup

The coffee chooses the cup

Origami flavour tasting cups

October 7, 2021

Studies have shown that the shape of the coffee vessel affects the perceived taste profile of a cup of coffee. In certain cases, it can highlight aromas that are present, and can underscore the coffee’s sweetness or acidity in others.

The Origami Flavour Cup series exemplifies the idea of a cup highlighting different aspects with its design, and it is the perfect set of equipment on which to apply this theory. At Homeground, there is an intentional selection of the cup that is used to serve each coffee on the menu. The cups can be compared in terms of headspace and rim architecture, which are used to guide our eventual choice of equipment.

The amount of space from the coffee surface to the top of the cup is known as the headspace – a larger headspace has more volatile coffee aromatics present, while a smaller headspace lowers the perceived intensity of the aromas.

Thickness and angle at the lip constitute the rim architecture – cups with thinner and inward curving angles allow for more coffee to be drunk in one sip and accentuates the perceived sweetness and body in the coffee. Cups with wide, outward-curving angles allow the coffee to be spread out across the palate when sipping, and extend the taste profile by reaching the entire palate.

Aroma cup

The Aroma cup, with its specially designed dimensions for a wider and more spacious bottom, has a large headspace and a normal thickness with an inward angled rim. The larger headspace allows for volatile coffee aromatics to be retained and transferred to the nose when drinking, bringing focus to the aromas in the cup. Drinking with this cup often requires a large tilt, bringing the nose even closer to the coffee to allow for closer evaluation of the aroma.

Our retronasal olfactory system plays an important role in perceiving flavour, and coffees with unique aromas that are closely interlinked with its taste profile are often served in this cup. An example of a coffee that pairs well with this cup is the Banko Gotiti, whose earl grey aroma is brought to the fore when using the Aroma cup.

Barrel cup

Resembling a wine barrel, the Barrel cup has an average-sized headspace, but a thicker rim that is curved inwards towards the lip. This encourages a larger intake of coffee per sip, accentuating sweetness and bringing out a bigger body in the coffee.

This cup is often used to serve coffees with a vibrant acidity, as it provides balance by naturally highlighting the sweetness and body of the coffee. The most recent Kenyan coffee on the menu, Theta AB, when served in this cup, presents a fully rounded drink with a sublime juiciness.

Pinot cup

The pinot cup has a small headspace and a distinctive thin, outward facing lip. This opens out the coffee as it is being drunk, spreading the coffee over the entire palate and activating the full range of taste receptors in the tongue. As a result, the taste profile of the coffee is expanded, bringing out more structure and clarity in coffees.

Lighter, delicate coffees with complex and nuanced notes that benefit from a longer taste journey are commonly served in this cup. At the cafe, it was the vessel of choice for showcasing the taste journey of the Hambela, ranging from the elegant acidity, to a silky smooth body and a lingering chrysanthemum floral finish.

Choosing the cup

With tastes differing across cups, even with the same brew, it can seem like the coffee chooses the type of cup that can complete the experience.

As the baristas calibrate the brewing of each coffee in the morning, they decide the choice of cup to be used in serving the drink, taking into consideration the taste profile that the coffee presents that day. Every detail matters, and deliberate selection of the cup is done to ensure that the customer can enjoy the coffee exactly as what we imagine the coffee to be.