At Beans & Butter, we roast our own beans, which gives our customers a chance to try some very unique coffee beans that are grown in a wide variety of coffee regions in the world. Our typical customer orders a delicious latte espresso drink, but if you are interested in developing your coffee palate, we suggest that you order a pour over or daily house brew, black, and really try to taste the different flavors in the coffee. While ordering a cup of coffee black can be intimidating to a sweetened, milky latte drinker, it really is the best way to taste the different flavors in the coffee bean.
What Kind of Roasts Do You Have?
Our roasts are generally light to medium roast, with beans that are grown on small farms with a particular care that a large industrial coffee farm simply cannot achieve. Compare this to dedicated vegetable gardeners who can spend the time nurturing their plants versus a giant corporate farm where chemicals are necessary to maintain mass production. The small garden produce will be superior. The same goes for coffee from smaller farms.
How Do You Start Learning About Flavor Notes in Coffee Tasting?
For those new to tasting, the flavors that we as humans taste are:
• Umami (Savory)
These flavors fire off the taste buds on the tongue. When you sip your coffee, think of what part of the tongue the coffee is hitting. What is the first taste that comes to mind? It may at first be difficult to grab a word, but give it a second or two, and something will make you react. Even if the flavor is bland (hopefully not!), this is a flavor descriptor. Grab a pen and paper and start jotting down some words.
What Is Coffee Mouth Feel?
Once you have had that first reaction, think about the way the coffee feels in your mouth. Does it feel rich and creamy, or light and thin, perhaps it’s harder to describe, and this may be a medium mouth feel. Is it a sharp, biting feel? Maybe it’s a soothing, mellow feel in the mouth. Think of more descriptive types of words that will help you develop this mouth feel sensation.
How Do You Describe Coffee Flavor Notes?
Now that you have a couple of words to start with, try to get more specific with your taste description. The coffee may be acidic, but does it taste like citrus, or more wine-like? If it is citrusy, does it taste more like lemon, grapefruit, lime or orange? Maybe it’s got a milder citrus flavor than those, so possibly lemon peel. If it’s more wine-like, think about what fruits come to mind. Does the coffee taste of dark stone fruits like black cherries, or maybe red grapes? Notice how citrus feels light, but wine is a darker flavor, even though they are both acidic.
Regarding mouth feel, does the feel in your mouth remind you of a certain food or drink? Does it have the consistency of water, or maybe like heavy cream? Does it have a bit of bubbly zip to it like a soft drink?
Be mindful that the longer the coffee is in your mouth, other flavors may fire off on your tongue. You may instantly taste sugary notes, but it is followed by an acidity. Is that sugary taste a burnt caramel taste, or something lighter like white sugar? What would a floral tasting coffee actually taste like? This term is used often when explaining a flavor, but what does that actually taste like? Does it remind you of freshly mown grass or maybe a rose? Is it an earthy / umami like flavor that brings to mind mushrooms, pine, or some other forest flavors? Maybe you detect spicy notes, such as cinnamon, cloves or anise.
What is the Coffee Aftertaste?
The final descriptor during your tasting is aftertaste. Did the coffee leave a bitter taste in your mouth, or was it sweet and chocolatey? Did it make you want another sip or another cup?
Keep Tasting and Take Notes!
If you have written down your thoughts, and you know the type of coffee you have just tried, you are on your way to being a coffee connoisseur! Ask your Beans & Butter barista what they think of the coffee and compare notes. Keep tasting, taking notes, and you will soon have a favorite coffee region and roast.