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a cup of flavors

January 9, 2012

no not the artificial kinds that are added to coffee but the ones you taste naturally due to all the oils and flavors innate to coffee already. when i’ve asked people what they’d like to learn about coffee more often than not they’ve mentioned wanting to taste coffee more. not just taste “coffee” but all the flavors that are written on a bag of intelligentsia for instance or that they’ve heard other’s use to describe the drink.

To begin tasting coffee well, you must be tasting good coffee already. This might seem obvious but is the reason that many people don’t taste anything or add so much to their morning cup. Good coffee means that it has not been over roasted so only a burnt, acrid flavor remains. Coffee that has been tended to by attentive farmers who use methods that work for the land and are at higher elevations tastes develops flavor during the process. Coffee from bourbon plants or other interesting and rare varietals tastes different from coffee plants of other types.

The cafe you choose will be able to direct you in this and baristas at cafes that serve this kind of coffee will generally love to talk to you about what to expect.i will also continue this conversation about the different flavor profiles to look for and how to describe them.

The next important aspect is how coffee interacts with your tongue. there are many areas on your tongue that will send back different signals to your brain: salty, sweet, bitter and sour. you want to make sure that the coffee flows over every part of the tongue so that it has a chance to register and balance all these flavors. the coffee should also not be piping hot because then you just burn your tongue and lose the chance so wait just a bit to enjoy. while generally when in a cafe you might be trying to look cool and sip your coffee sweetly, really tasting coffee demands slurping. so maybe you’ll want to take your coffee home before you try this. you must have a clean palate too so no muffins or cinnamon buns, atleast drink some water right before you decide to taste the coffee, mineral water is best. then bring the coffee to your mouth and slurp,* aerate the coffee so that it travels all over your tongue and almost up into your nose so that you get the best opportunity to enjoy the flavors. then write down what you taste. first and foremost its good to understand what you taste. and what you like. it might be very simple at first but as you taste different ones you’ll start to notice a difference and develop your palate. stay tuned for more details about what your tasting and how to talk about your cup of coffee.

*watch this video at minute 1:38 for the perfect example

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