Do you taste your coffee? I don’t mean drink or guzzle, I mean TASTE. Do you focus on your coffee to the point where you can identify flavors, origins, and roasts? If your answer, like most, is “no”, then why not start?
Like wine grapes, coffee absorbs the flavors of the area in which it’s raised. Coffees from some areas in the world have very distinctive flavors while others may be more subtle, but each has a unique set of flavor characteristics. In addition, the coffee roast helps to highlight or hide certian flavors in the profile.
Here’s how to get started. First, start with high quality coffee. Measure about .5oz (14gr) into a glass ramekin. Second, bring water to a boil, remove it from the heat and count to ten before pouring over the coffee grounds. Be certain to circulate the pour and incorporate all of the coffee. Wait about 4 minutes as the coffee steeps in the hot water. Meanwhile, secure two teaspoons.
Now for the fun. Position your nose directly over the ramekin while separating the top layer of grounds with a spoon. Be sure to inhale those great aromas! Concentrate on what you smell; vanilla, nuts, toast? Next, scoop off and discard the floating grounds. Take a spoonful of coffee and slurp it into your mouth, aerating it as much as possible. What do you taste; caramel, chocolate, fruit?
Like wine, beer, and spirits, tasting coffees takes some practice. You may wish to start with the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s tasting wheel to get ideas on what to smell and taste for and tasting two different coffees at a time helps distinguish differences.
My advice? Take a few minutes and taste your coffee. There will never be ‘just coffee’ again.