Taste Coffee Like a Connoisseur
If you appreciate a perfect cup of coffee perhaps it’s time to level up your skills. Although not everyone can do it, it is not a way to earn big money but the enticing aromas coming from your property could score you some kudos.
Being able to taste coffee like a professional has its perks. For anyone who knows their cup of Joe from their elbow, finding work as a professional coffee taster could be a dream job and it comes with added health benefits.
Coffee, taken black, is a low-calorie drink, only 5 calories, and acceptable as part of a balanced low-calorie diet. However, coffee is versatile, both as a flavor and a drink. It doesn’t take too much effort to vamp it up a bit. It’s the calorie count that skyrockets, whether you’re adding a teaspoon bourbon or milk and brown sugar. However you feel like taking a cup, it’s worth succumbing to the temptation to experience the sense of satisfaction enjoying a decent cup coffee brings. Take on an instant 450 calories with a Grande Iced Salted Caramel Mocha with whipped cream and 2% milk. To offset things, the caffeine in this coffee treat will help break down fat cells.
Coffee is a popular beverage all over the world and there are many, many ways to prepare it. A few of the most popular stand out for their worldwide appeal.
- Espresso: Mastering the art of a good espresso is essential. We’ve been working on it for hundreds of years so there are many machines around that can help you get the brew just right whether you grind your own or buy ready to go pods. From here, there is literally a whole wide world of beans and blends to explore and the chance to develop your palette even further by tasting coffee based puddings, desserts, cookies and cakes.
- Caffe Americano: Always a favorite and easy to make, since all you do is add hot water to a shot of espresso. American soldiers made this cuppa popular during WWII.
- Café Latte: Also called Café con Leche, this staple is a single shot served with steamed milk. It’s a breakfast favorite because of it’s smooth, creamy texture and frothy top.
- Cappuccino: Three layers of coffeeness. A shot of rich dark espresso then creamy steamed milk with a thick layer of coffee laden foam added by hand by. It’s not complete until topped with a sprinkle of chocolate shavings or a dusting of cocoa powder lovingly arranged into a heart, fern leaf or whatever.
- The Flat White: Although loved by those living down under, it’s actually tricky to master even though all it is steamed milk over a shot of espresso.
- Macchiato: Also known as the Piccolo Latte, the macchiato is simply a shot of espresso ingeniously topped with foamed milk. Since the liquid is almost pure coffee, it’s a powerful caffeine hit that’s often too strong for mere mortals.
Even so, if you want to taste coffee like a connoisseur, you should be open to tasting coffee in all its glorious forms. To be accepted as a connoisseur means talking the talk and to do that you need to know the qualities of the humble coffee bean. Here’s a few.
- The aroma is in the steam. Each kind of bean has a unique aroma. This is its signature and forms part of its profile. Some are earthy, others fruity and some, like Kona, are light and
- Bitterness is down to you. You can experience a brew’s bitterness by holding a sip on the back of your tongue.
- The tart sensation is acidity. The Mexican coffee beans are the most acidic although the Sumatran bean comes in a close second. The age of the bean and the roasting method can also make a difference.
- The sharpness is what makes your coffee feel special and comes from the mix of acids and salts. It is clearly noticeable in cheap robusta.
- The deep nutty flavors matter. The nuttiness is the result of ketones and aldehydes, and the higher the nuttiness, the poorer the quality of beans.
It takes practice in the art of ‘cupping’ to learn how to taste coffee like a connoisseur. It’s the industry standard coffee tasting technique. Learning it will build up your profile knowledge and refine your palate. Here’s how to start:
- Use fresh coarse ground beans and seep in hot water for about 4 minutes. The infusion will develop a crust.
- Carefully break the crust and breathe in. Be patient and let it play with your senses. Learning to identify individual aromas will help you remember the more of the tones and build a mental picture of the bean’s flavor profile since memory, smell and taste are neurologically linked.
- Remove the grinds and take a look and the color. Coffee color varies from bean to bean from a clear light brown to a thick black brown.
- Slurp in a sip so that the infusion covers all the taste areas of the tongue and you experience a full flavor profile.
The flavor of a coffee bean depends on its origins. Colombian coffee, with its sweet taste and maple syrup consistency, is easily recognizable. Central American coffees tend towards fruitier undertones that resemble pear, mango or even pineapple, whilst the Rwandan and Kenyan beans offer the citrus qualities of orange, grapefruit and raspberry. Indonesian coffee always hits the spot with a uniquely earthy full roast flavor and the nutty chocolatey flavors of the Brazilian beans remain a firm favorite worldwide.
Even in the smallest circles, to be considered a coffee connoisseur means constant tasting to build up knowledge, skill and expertise. Unlike professional cuppers, you don’t have to work to a tick chart standard and describe what you tasted using someone else’s vocabulary. You are free to explore and experiment and take your time discovering the vast rich tapestry of aroma and flavor that makes coffee enjoyed by so many, everywhere.