While construction workers are building the restaurant we went coffee tasting today to a great a small batch local artisan coffee roaster.
Tasting coffee is an art form. Being a wine maven I truly enjoy “coffee cupping” as it is called. To detect the most amount of flavor from the coffee bean, it must be tasted properly. Coffee beans have up to 800 flavor characteristics that our senses can detect. Red wine, by comparison, only has 400. Most coffee connoisseurs prefer mild roasts because the longer a coffee bean is roasted the more characteristics that are burned off.
Coffee tasting works much like wine tasting. Coffee tasting has special terms, used to describe the taste of coffee and to find the perfect balance. Knowing how to taste coffee is not enough. One must know how to describe the flavors. The terms below are used in cupping. Each of these terms describe certain characteristics of coffee.
Fragrance: the smell of the coffee grinds
Body: the way the coffee feels in your mouth, the feeling of weight and texture
Mellow: coffee has a fully-developed body; not harsh
Acidity: Acidity, used as a coffee term, refers to bright, tangy, fruity, or wine-like flavor characteristics found in many high grown Arabica coffees. Coffee with high acidity is described as acidy, which has nothing to do with amount of acid, or pH. When green coffee is stored for more than a year it will have a perceptible loss of flavor and acidity. Also, acidity is reduced as coffee is roasted darker.
A harsh, generally unpleasant taste detected mostly in the back of the tongue. Bitterness is characteristic of over-extracted, defective, or extra dark roasted coffees.
A balanced coffee may be complex, but does not have any overwhelming flavor or aroma characteristics. For example, Yemen Mocha is typically bold and flavorful, but is also well balanced. In contrast, Kenya AA, generally has a dominating wine-like fruity flavor. A well balanced coffee has flavors that can be sensed evenly across the tongue. Blending several different coffees together, if done correctly, can create a flavorful and balanced coffee. Balance, however, is not necessarily a positive taste attribute, since some people prefer coffees with particularly strong flavor distinctions.