Guidelines in Coffee-tasting from Coffee Connoisseurs

Tasting is not always a task exclusive to the tongue especially when it comes to coffee. Baristas are especially trained at incorporating all their senses when sampling an Arabica coffee by first smelling it and eventually recollect memories related to the coffee being sampled.

Baristas at leading coffee shops conduct daily in-store coffee-tasting to customers in the hopes of promoting coffee knowledge particularly on different coffee-growing regions, the best brewing method and on how to enhance the coffee experience.

The advantage of French Press over drip coffeemakers

Ground coffees intended for coffee-tasting are usually brewed using the French press. Unlike the coffee press, drip coffeemakers use paper filters that not only remove subtle flavors but also add a taste of their own. French presses are beneficial to achieving the fullest flavor of the coffee because of the stainless mesh filter they use. Coffees brewed using the French press visibly retain essential oils that make coffee more flavorful.

Regional varieties of coffee

Geography is the prime factor that distinguishes the varying flavor characteristics of coffees worldwide. There are three coffee-growing regions that harvest high-grade coffee beans: Latin America, Asia Pacific, and Africa/Arabia.

Latin American coffees are renowned for their medium intensity, well-balanced flavors and crisp, bright acidity typical of all high grown coffee. Coffees coming from Latin America specifically in Colombia, Guatemala, Brazil, and Mexico are processed using the “washed method” to develop flavor. Colombia is third among the top coffee producers in the world while Guatemala is where the finest Central American coffees are to be found. Coffees from Latin America are preferably used in blends.

Coffees from Africa/Arabia are similar to Latin American coffees in terms of their vibrant acidity and well-balanced flavors. But apart from having a bold intensity, Africa/Arabian coffees distinct are their intense floral aroma and fruity or winey flavor. In Ethiopia, known as the birthplace of coffee, coffee ceremonies are still held by tradition. Ethiopian coffees have a lemony flavor that distinguishes them from the unmistakable grapefruit and winey flavors of Kenyan coffees.

Asia/Pacific is home to the heavyweight coffees of the world. Coffees from Indonesia, East Timor, South Asia, and Papua New Guinea are characteristically full-bodied with very low acidity. Coffees from Sumatra and Sulawesi are recognized for their earthy flavor and spicy or herbal notes.

There is more to learn about various bean varieties but keeping in mind the basics will guide beginners in sampling a cup of Arabica coffee.

Essential coffee-tasting terms

The process of coffee-tasting involves list of terms that are easy to comprehend. It should be noted that in order to understand basic coffee-tasting terms like aroma, acidity, body, and flavor, two vital actions should be done: smelling and slurping.

Smelling the coffee

Smelling is not just important in capturing the coffee’s aroma, a term that refers to the bouquet or scent of coffee. It is even suggested that smelling is highly significant because 90 percent of the coffee’s flavor comes from its aroma.

Smelling the dry grinds is the first stage and coffee may have more than 850 different characteristics, chemicals and aromas in certain cases, like wine. Cupping is a way to try to get up close and take in as many of those traits as possible. You can get different stages of fragrance.

Coffee Cupping

By slurping, air is incorporated to avoid burning the palate and, most importantly, to spread the coffee all throughout the tongue.

It’s not just about tasting and comparing different coffees. Coffee growers, traders and roasters also use it to create flavor profiles and grade the coffee on a scale of 1-10; understand the full potential of the coffee, what the end product might be (in your cup) and what kind of coffee owners might want to buy. It involves several times walking around the “cupping table” at each point. It’s amazing how experts grade coffee using their senses.

Coffee is an experience

Coffee-tasting is not limited to basic coffee profiles and terms. By remembering that coffee is an experience, communicating about coffee should also involve the recollection of memories evoked by the coffee. A nutty or chocolatey aroma may be reminiscent of a childhood memory. The floral and spicy notes might transport one to a mother’s kitchen. Only by verbalizing how a cup of coffee has uplifted one’s spirits, real coffee-tasting is achieved.