How to drink coffee - it seems like a fairly simple phrase. But coffee has so many variables and so many elements to look out for that it is, in fact, more of an art than a solution. In many if not most societies around the world, coffee drinking has become a ritual of many types, and to get the most out of the occasion it’s best to know what you’re looking for in an enjoyable cup.
When we drink coffee - particularly in the Western world - it is normally with a few friends whilst chatting, or whilst reading the newspaper or working - but what if we actually concentrated on the drink like we do wine? If you’re looking to get further down this rabbit hole, read on.
It’s in the mouth and the nose
Your tongues and your nasal cavities are where you will be picking up the senses that enable you to judge your cup of coffee. It’s best, however, to take them both on separate accounts as this makes it easier - particularly if you’re still learning - to work out what it is you’re sensing.
On the tongues, you are looking for tastes like bitterness and acidity, and sweetness and savouriness. You can also pick up the saltiness of the drink. As for the ‘flavours’ people talk about, like chocolate, vanilla, cherries and berries - they’re all in the nose, which you’ll pick up on a secondary basis after the taste. Attempting to take all this in at once is a mistake - your senses will be overwhelmed and it makes it difficult to work out what you’re experiencing.
Before it reaches you, it’s tested
Before the coffee you’re tasting reaches you, the consumer, it will have been tested and tasted and reviewed by coffee professionals. They will make notes based on the following aspects (plus some)
- Sweetness, which is desirable in most coffees
- Acidity, which can be either good or bad - good if it’s crisp, bad if it’s sour
- Mouthfeel, in whether it’s light and delicate or creamy and heavy - normally the higher the quality, the less heavy and higher the acidity of the cup
- Balance, in that is it hard to assess due to a myriad of tastes that don’t help each other, or is it harmonious in its senses like a well-conducted orchestra?
- Flavour, which gets easier with experience!
Are you getting into the delicacies of coffee tasting? Head over to the Hoxton Coffee Facebook page with your thoughts on what you prefer!