When talking about tasting, people automatically think of wine, but anyone can do a tasting with any drink, although not everyone knows it. Coffee is no exception, and it is a practice that has been gaining ground in recent years. So in today’s article, we will cover the process of tasting coffee and its importance for producers and businesses.
Meaning of tasting coffee
For experts in the field, tasting is nothing more than a process of cupping the final drink. In the case of coffee, after going through its respective cultivation, selection, roasting, grinding, and straining, the final part is the tasting. The sommeliers, the experts in tasting drinks, will check from the smell to the last note of flavor that a sip of coffee possesses. However, a coffee tasting goes beyond checking its flavor and the aftertaste it leaves at the end.
It is paramount to the producers, buyers, and businesses involved in selling this famous beverage, who rely heavily on cupping coffee. This process will indicate if a new mixture can be fruitful in the market, both in roasting and in preparation. But not only that, but it can tell if this harvest is excellent for the market since the tasting will tell if that lot has defects in any of its characteristics.
What to look for when tasting coffee?
Simple, there are basic aspects when cupping coffee: cleanliness, sweetness, acidity, mouthfeel, and aftertaste. In addition, a tasting shows things that are not visible to the naked eye, which makes it a sensory experience for lovers of this drink. Additionally, this allows people to know the grain in-depth, from the differences in cultivation to the variety of beans worldwide.
Tasting coffee is carried out following this series of steps before moving on to the tasting itself:
- Three random samples are taken from the same lot to determine if it has not been manipulated with lower quality beans.
- The chosen samples must be toasted within 24 hours before the tasting and must be left to rest for 8 hours.
- The grind must be between 70% – 65%, and it must pass through a #20 sieve. The next step is to have the cups ready, preferably ceramic or tempered glass.
- The proper proportion is 8.25 grams of coffee per 150 ml of water; the temperature of the water should be 93°. This is of utmost importance for a sommelier.
- The tasting is done in three steps: hot, warm and cold coffee. The sommeliers can distinguish the true notes of flavors and aromas on a larger scale through this method.
Now comes the tasting itself:
Smelling the coffee
The sense of smell is of the utmost importance when tasting coffee (and any other beverage). Normally, an expert can detect the main flavors of that blend through the smell and even take it to different memories. Before taking the first sip, you should smell the final result after the long process from its cultivation to its straining.
Tasting the coffee
Now comes the main part: the taste of the drink. The test consists of a sip involving all the taste buds of the sommelier’s tongue. This way, a taster can taste different beans as long as they have been prepared in the same way, a slight change in the brew, and the coffee can taste completely different, even though it is from the same blend. In this way, the expert will give a more accurate opinion about the taste.
Tasting coffee is a very extensive practice gaining followers over the years. For these experts, the smell, taste, depth, and acidity of a cup of coffee are the most important thing, and in these times, baristas, growers, and roasters are always looking for new ways to enhance coffee. It’s no wonder cuppers are busy.
Photo by Anastasia Zhenina on Unsplash.