Coffee tasting is an attitude to life. It is a journey that gathers various sensory experiences.
Do you enjoy drinking coffee, but wish that you could better describe to others how good it tastes?
Now that you have learnt how to choose the right beans, drippers, filter papers, and know how to brew your coffee, it’s time to learn how to taste the coffee you brew!
Coffee tasting is an interesting topic. Similar to tea and wine tasting, a cup of coffee can be tasted from different aspects and standards. I personally think that coffee tasting is close to tea tasting, because we can enjoy the brewing and tasting process at the same time.
Here are 9 aspects for you to taste coffee:
Fragrance refers to the smell of coffee beans and grounds before they are in contact with water. Sometimes, I can relate the fragrance with white wine or lemon.
From the start till the end of the brewing process, the smell of the different scents of coffee is the aroma. Some examples of aroma are floral, maple syrup, cocoa.
3. First Taste
How do you feel when the coffee first touches your tongue and mouth? This is the first taste of the coffee. It can be bright fruitiness, a sweet, smooth, or strong sensation.
This usually refers to the flavours coming from the earlier stage of extraction, such as the fruitiness. If the extraction is insufficient, there will be a sharp acidity in the coffee. If the coffee is not fresh and over-extracted, it will also be sour and astringent.
I think this is the most appealing part in hand drip coffee. Sweetness generally refers to the mid-stage extraction, but it can also be described as honeyed, caramelised, and bittersweet. Some baristas think that sweetness is the most important taste of hand brewed coffee. They avoid sourness and bitterness when brewing.
Body refers to the texture and oiliness of coffee. Some describe it with TDS (Total Dissolved Solids). Examples of body are soft, full and thick.
Aftertaste is the aroma remained in your mouth, nasopharynx, and throat after coffee is swallowed. Good coffee must have a clear, long aftertaste. Sometimes, it can stay in the mouth for several hours.
This refers to the balance between the flavour, aftertaste, acidity and body. It shows whether the coffee layers are distinct and rich, whether it will be too acidic or too bitter. It can also refer to the body, or whether it is clean or impure.
Coffee flavour is not necessarily dominated by taste. A certain part of the flavour will be felt by the retronasal olfaction between the oral cavity and the nasal cavity. It is sometimes more influential than taste!
Next time, when you are tasting coffee, try to describe your experience with all these aspects. You’ll never lack vocabulary for your palate!
Brewing is fun; drinking is also fun!
This is the final chapter of our Starters' Guide. Have you enjoyed it? Did we miss anything you want to learn? Let us know by leaving a comment below!
Enjoy coffee brewing!