15 Jul 2022

The IKAWA Cup Form

A cupping form is a very important tool, and whether you complete every field on the form, or use it as a guide to make a few notes, they help inform our final impressions and feedback on a coffee. This could be notes for yourself, when choosing which coffee to buy from your importing partner, or it could be a full evaluation as feedback for a grower.

IKAWA has released our own cupping form that is designed to allow both beginners and experts to record the information they need, and do it very quickly. Read more about why we created IKAWA Cup here.

Our goal with IKAWA Cup is to make it easier to evaluate coffee, and ultimately make good purchasing decisions.

Why? Our roasters are already contributing to good purchasing decisions–they make sample roasting simple and accessible, and based on customer feedback we decided to extend that to the wider evaluation process. When interviewing customers we found many were adding notes to the Roast Log about their cupping. 

In interviewing customers, we also noticed that many other customers didn’t have a digital record of their evaluations. They spent hours organising cuppings and creating detailed notes, but ultimately these notes were lost and not available to reference down the line.

 To evolve the IKAWA Pro app, we need a cupping form. And our competition in designing it was everyone’s favourite, paper and pen. If our form wasn’t as easy to use as paper and pen, then it wouldn’t work. 

Read below on why and how we designed it the way we did. 


Wednesday 31 August at 11am EST (4pm BST, 5pm CEST)

After many prototypes and tests with customers of different experience levels and roles, we love our new form. It is nearly impossible to create a form that is perfect for everyone, so we didn’t try. 

We’re not trying to compete with SCA, CQI or Cup of Excellence, and we defer to them on designing the very important forms for green coffee grading. 

We have designed a form to help a purchaser evaluate which coffee is best for their business. The form is fast, captures the essential information, and the results are easily shared. 

This form also begins to help filter out top contenders for which coffee to purchase, adding in flags for “consider purchasing” and “what might this coffee be good for?”. 

So this is a great tool to help one or multiple people assess which coffee is the most suited to purchase, and then save it in an easy to share way.

The most challenging balance we had to strike in designing this form was to include fields for enough information, but to also make it very fast and easy to use. 

Below are a few of the designs that won out in our testing that makes this form very fast and simple to use:

The IKAWA Cup form uses a 6-star system, and it surprised us as much as anyone that this won out during testing. We prototyped various ways for people to record their overall impressions, from quick-select scores to open notes fields. But the stars were consistently the favourite. 

Our goal is not to replace scoring in coffee. It’s essential, and industry wide. The IKAWA Cup form still has many notes fields in which to record a score. 

In testing, this was the quickest and most user-friendly way for people to record their overall impression, and this is why it’s the primary field. Users still have many places in which to record scores. 

6 stars was tested because it forces a clear decision about like/dislike. 5 stars allows for a neutral choice, 3, but there is no middle choice with 6 stars. The coffee is either good (4-6) or not good (1-3). 

Dislike / Neutral / Like / Love

One aspect that we found causes an especially high cognitive load is scoring every characteristic of a coffee, such as flavour and acidity. Each characteristic can be scored from 6 to 10 in 0.25 intervals, on the most commonly used cupping form, and this is taxing on a cupper.

We narrowed this down from 16 to 4 options, and it’s phrased in an approachable way that helps cuppers sort through their impressions of the coffee. 

Note taking within the app

While the above mentioned quick-select options make the form really fast and easy, in our testing that wasn’t enough for cuppers. They were not able to capture enough information to capture their whole impression of a coffee. 

They needed flexibility and detail. They needed good notes fields.

The notes field gives a wide open option for people to go as detailed as they like, turning a simple form into a comprehensive record when needed. 

Powerful, Fast, and Simple

Putting together all of these items has created a form that we really love, and we hope you do too. Please try it out at your next purchasing cupping!

Once you’re using this simple, flexible cupping form for your own cuppings, you’ll also be able to do easy group cuppings, quickly share results with colleagues, importers and producers, and it even simplifies blind cuppings

When you’ve tried IKAWA Cup, please let us know your feedback (both good and bad), and we’ll continue to keep you posted on new updates and features.

author-img By Geoff Woodley