Wine tasters religiously follow what I call the S³ Routine: Swirl, Sniff, and Sip. This ritual is meant allow the taster to fully experience the flavors and aroma of the wine; coffee tasting is a little different, but the emphasis on the senses is still there.
Ideally, the tasting experience begins way before a hot cup of Joe is placed in front of you. The first time you’re exposed to the grinds, take a minute to inhale its fragrance—this should give you some indication of what to expect. Once water is introduced, the essence of your grind should begin to reveal itself and give off an alluring aroma to whet the palate. Then, there’s the fun part—trying your beverage for the first time.
Coffee connoisseurs deliberately slurp the brew and slide it around the entire surface of the mouth and tongue. This allows their taste buds to sort out the different nuisances of the brew. Most experts tend to concentrate on three fundamentals at this stage: body, balance, and acidity.
Body refers to the texture of a brew. A full-bodied coffee will have a nice, rich, creamy texture. Wide variations can be found in coffee, ranging from thin and watery to thick and creamy. The second element, balance, refers to blend of flavors inherent in your brew. A well-balanced coffee may be complex, but the flavors should be evenly distributed and not overwhelming to the palate. While some people prefer a well-balanced blend, others enjoy strong flavor characteristics and may not seek balance in their coffee. Acidity, our last term, does not deal with the pH level of the java, but rather the dry, tangy sensation the flavor characteristics of your brew. Lighter roasts should exhibit more acidity than dark ones.
Once you’ve swallowed your first sip, you should experience an aftertaste that lingers on the palate. This is kind of like the finish in wine tasting! Coffee aftertastes can vary considerably, depending on the body, balance, and acidity of your java.
When all is said and done, coffee is a highly subjective beverage. What appeals to one person may not interest another. We’ve simply given you the tools to identify your preferences, what you choose to brew is completely up to you.
Below is a list of some flavor characteristics often associated with certain types of coffee…If you’re a newbie, or even seasoned coffee drinker looking to try a new brew, this list can help guide you to the perfect java.
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