Coffee tasting is much like wine tasting. There are several factors to consider, and often, you will find yourself at a loss in describing the real flavor of your coffee. It will take practice for you to develop a refined palate for coffee bean flavours and determine its overlapping flavors. You need to “train” your tastebuds and nose for you to distinguish the different aromas and tastes effectively. You can do this with a little effort each day. Likewise, there are tools such as a Coffee Taste Chart or a Coffee Aroma Wheel that you can use to achieve a better appreciation for a fresh brew.
Coffee lovers would know the challenge of identifying the distinct flavors in their coffee cup. There is a broad range of characteristics that one would find in different types of coffee. It goes from Earthy tones, sweet fruity to floral and tea-like. There is a fantastic spectrum of taste experiences in a simple coffee cup. With the help of a Coffee Tasting Chart, you can explore various coffee tastes and pinpoint the unlying tones that flavors your coffee.
The Coffee Taste Chart or the Coffee Flavor Wheel is one of the most iconic tools in the coffee industry. It was first used in 1995 and has been an industry standard since then. It was updated in 2016 in collaboration with World Coffee Research.
The Coffee Tasters Wheel was founded upon the alliance of works by dozens of coffee buyers, professional sensory panelists, and coffee roasting companies. At present, this tool is the most extensive, most collaborative item of research on coffee flavor completed. It inspires a whole new range of vocabulary for coffee professionals around the globe.
What makes Coffee Taste different?
There are hundreds of ways to enjoy a cup of coffee. A simple adjustment in the brew can instantly transform its taste. But why does coffee taste so different? The things that make coffee taste different are due to its ingredient, and partly, it is also about the science of it.
One key factor that addresses the question of what makes coffee taste different is the origin of the beans. Each growing region renders a specific trait or characteristics to your coffee and enhances its flavor profile.
Kenya and Sumatra, for instance, are popular origins of coffee, and they have different climates for growing their beans. Here’s what we know about the parts that make coffee taste different from one another.
When looking at the types of coffee Australia has, you will notice that most products come from prominent coffee-producing countries. The most recognizable and probably the biggest coffee producing country in the world is Brazil. The climate here lends well to a wide variety of coffee bean products. Brazilian coffees are processed in three ways – wet, semi-washed, and dry. The essential flavors notable in their coffee are chocolate and spices, but there are also some with a nutty quality, which makes them an ideal espresso blend.
Kenya, on the other hand, is famous for producing coffee beans with a sweet-savory taste. It sometimes reminds tasters of a tomato’s acidity or tart blackcurrant. Likewise, coffee beans from Central American countries like Honduras, Guatemala, and Costa Rica are considered as the backbone of the standard coffee commonly prepared. Coffee from this region has a bright and clean taste. There are notes of fruity and nutty flavors with light cocoa and spicy flavors.
Apart from Brazil, Colombia, and the rest of South America is also a coffee heritage region and is known for its high-quality coffee. Their popularity made them synonymous with excellent coffee taste. Rightly so, coffee from this region exhibits a mild acidity with hints of chocolate, caramel, and nuts.
Another prominent coffee origin is Ethiopia. The country is known for producing the Coffea arabica variety. They have two distinct flavor profiles in their beans. Washed beans have hints of jasmine and lemongrass, while naturally processed beans have that sweet, syrupy berry flavors.
And we have the world’s fourth-largest coffee producer, Indonesia. This region produces both Arabica and Robusta coffee beans. The beans they produce have hints heavy and musty notes reminiscent of dark chocolate.
The Coffee Menu
Different coffee variety from each region has distinct qualities that react differently depending on how it is brewed, prepared, or served. For instance, the Colombian coffee gives us an excellent espresso blend. Thus, its freeze-dried variety is enjoyed by coffee lovers around the globe.
A taste of each type can only be distinguished by professional tasters and those with a refined palate. For you to fully understand the flavor profiles of each cup, you have to explore each blend or single-origin coffee. This way, you can find a coffee that suits you best.
Coffee drinkers today enjoy their cup mixed with milk and other ingredients. Milk-based coffees are among the bestsellers in most coffee shops. If you often opt for a latte or cappuccino, you must understand how milk changes the taste of the coffee. More so, you should keep in mind that choosing a blend based on how its espresso taste can lead to an unpleasant drink when milk is added.
Whole milk affects the taste and consistency of the coffee drinks we prepare. Using a higher ratio of milk will mellow-out the intense flavor of espresso in quality beans.
What is the difference between coffee beans and espresso beans?
True blue coffee lovers are known to be picky with roasts and beans. When choosing coffee for a new brew method, you will realize that there are espresso beans and coffee beans. Are these two the same? What if we told you that there is a considerable difference between these two?
Most people are not aware of the difference between a coffee bean and an espresso bean.
Coffee beans are beans that have been roasted and are ready for brewing. They are available in several roast quality. You can opt for a light roast to enjoy a fuller flavor of the bean. The flavor profile of these beans varies according to the region in which they came from. The different roast quality include the following –
Light-roasted – these beans do not have the oily sheen typical with other roast variety. They are ideal for white coffee and non-pressure brews such as cold-brew and pour-over coffee.
Medium Roasted – gives a different flavor profile, and it can be used for various brewing styles.
Dark Roasted – this variety is commonly utilized for espresso brewing. The beans appear with their dark-brown color, oily and shiny surface.
On the other hand, espresso beans are a variety of coffee bean belonging to the dark roast category. At this stage, the beans have less acidity and fuller flavor. Preparing your coffee with espresso beans will give you slight hints of the flavor profile of the beans.
Among coffee bean types, dark roast espressos are the richest in natural oils. The oils are emulsified along with the other compounds in the coffee bean, and it helps produce the espresso crema.
Using regular coffee beans to prepare espresso may not give you the type of brew that you can expect from a “perfect” shot. Some varieties are too light, while others are too dark or charred.
Coffee Tasting: Differentiating Tastes
When it comes to the taste of coffee, professionals with refined palate will tell you that there is no single coffee taste. The use of the coffee taster wheel is but to guide you in coming up with a description. Coffee taste is influenced by its origin, processing, roasting quality, and preparations. To perceive the taste using the taste buds, the Coffee Taste Chart, or the Coffee Tasting Wheel starts with four basic tastes – sour, salty, sweet, and bitter. As it spans outwards, it follows your exploration of the flavors you identify in your cup. Here are the basic differentiating tastes for coffee.
Identifying a sour taste in the world of coffee is perceived to be a desirable characteristic of excellent coffee. It may come off as tartness or fruity profiles that can be mild or biting sharp feel in your tongue. In most cases, it arises from the acidic compounds produced through under-extraction in the brewing process.
Bitterness becomes an identifiable profile when coffee is over-extracted in the brewing process. Some factors that may also influence a bitter cup are coarse grind and over-steeping. While it is also important to note that bitterness is an omnipresent quality of the beverage, thus it is an indispensable coffee flavor. Low levels of bitterness mellow the acidity, and it adds a unique quality to the brew. On the other hand, too much bitterness may overpower the different components that one can find in coffee, therefore producing an unpleasant flavor.
When it comes to the sweetness factor in coffee, it is somewhat likened to the ripeness of the coffee cherries. When harvested, the cherries contain natural sugars and having that sweetness quality guarantees that the coffee has been cared for in every stage of the process – from washing, drying, roasting, and storing. The sweet taste profile is also applied by coffee professionals in describing the intensity of sugary qualities of a specific coffee variety.
Among the basic taste qualities, saltiness in coffee is considered as a defect by taste experts. A brackish quality in a brew is an undesirable taste. More so, it indicates the presence of inorganic materials or contamination of mineral content that remains in the coffee.
Aside from these four fundamental differences, there are other dimensions of the coffee tastes. For instance, the mouth-feel of a brew is viscosity. Likewise, the texture you feel near the back of your tongue is due to the insoluble protein oils that are undissolved in the blend. This characteristic can be described as light and thin or heavy and full. Coffee is said to be full-bodied if it has a lingering taste, and one that lacks body is thin and watery. Sumatran and Colombian coffee beans are well-known for their full-bodied roasts.
How would you describe the taste of coffee?
When reading through various coffee varieties, you may think that the descriptions are embellished, confusing, or exaggerated. But when you learn how to describe coffee tastes, you will be able to interpret these words better. More so, understanding how to describe coffee allows you to recognize the brew by merely taking a sip from your cup. A refined coffee taster will also be able to leave an accurate description of the taste of coffee after thoroughly enjoying your brew.
Describing the Acidity
Primarily, you can describe coffee based on its acidity or its aftertaste. When it comes to coffee, acidity is not an unpleasant trait. If your coffee has a crisp, pleasant, and sharp aftertaste, its acidity is on a higher level. On the other hand, if the coffee has low acidity, the aftertaste is quite dull.
Describing the Aroma
The taste buds are limited when it comes to detecting flavors profiles. Thus, professionals use the aroma to identify hints of flavors in coffee. For instance, you’d be able to smell citrusy, floral, and fruity undertones in your coffee. These can be easily missed out when you rely on your tastebuds for taste identification. Because of the crucial part of the coffee aroma, smelling the brew before taking a sip is the first step in coffee tasting. Doing this best detects the accenting flavors in your brew.
Describing the Overall Flavor
The flavor is the perception of what you taste while the brew is in your mouth. Coffee may taste slightly caramelly or chocolatey. Take note that flavor is not the same as the aroma, thus pay close attention to the flavors that your tastebuds can detect.
Come Up with A Complete Description of Your Brew
You may describe coffee starting with the acidity, followed by its aroma and then its flavor. For instance, you can describe coffee as – one with a sharp, bright flavor, with hints of citrus and caramel.
Generally, there is no one way of describing a cup of coffee. The same brew may taste differently for each person who cups it. Thus, take note of how your senses identify the flavors, aroma, and undertones of the coffee when you taste it.
What are the four steps of tasting coffee?
Coffee tasting and cupping sessions are often held in coffee shops. You might find one scheduled in the coming days near your location. Similar to wine tasting, cupping sessions entail a variety of brews from different coffee beans. For starters, you might not be able to fully come up with a complete profile of the brew in your cup. But by practicing the steps in coffee tasting, you will soon be able to appreciate your coffees fully. Additionally, you will also identify the characteristics you like on your brew based on their origin, processing, and roasting quality.
Step 1 – Smell
Always inhale your coffee before taking a sip. Your taste buds are capable of identifying the four basic tastes – sour, bitter, sweet, and salty. On the other hand, the nose can detect thousands of aromas. So, cup your hand over your cup and hold it close to your nose. Take a delightful smell and identify the scented undertones.
Step 2 – Slurp
During a tasting, it is crucial to slurp your coffee and not just sip it. Slurping spreads coffee across your tongue. It helps your tastebuds identify the primary flavors of the coffee while letting its aroma reach your nose.
Step 3 – Locate
Take note of the flavors you experience on your tongue as you taste your coffee. Did you feel the flavors better at the tip or the side? How would you describe the mouth-feel? How was the weight of the brew on your tongue?
Step 4 – Describe
After smelling and tasting your cup, consider how you can best describe the experience. Describe its acidity, aroma, body, and flavor. Identify the flavors and the experience that you have in your cup.
How do you make coffee taste good?
You might have coffee that tasted so awful, but you also had heavenly brews. Is it possible that you can always have better brews and avoid unpleasant coffee experience?
Coffee snobs may discourage you and tell you how challenging it is to create a great tasting coffee. But with the right technique and combination of these tips, you’ll have a better experience every morning right at home.
Choose Good Beans
Great coffee starts with high-quality coffee beans. These beans don’t taste the same. The flavors of these coffees are 100% natural and very diverse. It means that some beans will be great, and others will be so-so. If you are after a perfect experience, choose specialty-grade quality coffee.
Likewise, choose freshly roasted beans. Get them whole and ground them. Coffee grounds will soon lose their distinct flavors. The peak freshness of coffee is around two to three weeks; thus, those that you see on the shelves are beyond the freshness peak. Ideally, you can find roasters that roast beans according to orders.
Choose Your Coffee Brewer
The ideal brewing temperature is 195 degrees, and you should have a coffee brewer that can reach this optimal heat. Most coffee experts prefer to use manual coffee makers.
These coffee makers allow better control over brewing time, water, and grounds for a better-tasting brew. You can also adjust your technique to attain the flavors in your coffee flavour wheel.
Coffees do taste better when you brew them manually. Over time, you’d be able to master slight adjustments to change your brews, time, and water to suit your desired tastes.
Always remember that your coffee is 98% water; thus, filtered coffee is the ideal choice for preparing your cup. Too much minerals in tap water will lead to dull and lifeless coffees. Coffee shops use special filtered water; thus, you get better tasting coffee every time you visit them.
Regardless of the coffee type, you have at home, and you can learn how to properly describe the taste of your brew by continually drinking, adjusting, and studying. Consider picking out Australian coffee types on your next cupping session and determine where the flavors sit in the Coffee Taste Chart. With the information shared in this post, we hope to have provided you with some idea that you can approach coffee cupping. Now that you know your tastes better, you can perceive and better describe your coffee.