Mastering the Art of Coffee Tasting

coffeeTo most people, a cup of coffee is a cup of coffee. Hot, wet and packed with caffeine, it is a staple of breakfast throughout the world. Delve a little deeper into the complexities of the coffee bean, however, and you will discover a glorious melting pot of flavour profiles that will give you a completely new perspective on your favourite pre-lunch tipple. Coffee beans are grown in regions that lie between Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer, but exactly where has a profound effect on the drinking experience you enjoy before you head off to work. So, to truly know which coffee best matches your own taste preferences, knowing how to taste it like the professionals is essential.

 The basic principles of coffee tasting

Everything tastes like chicken, right? Wrong! The truth is that flavour is a complex characteristic to define and in many cases, it is a subjective experience. Our natural instinct is to compare flavours with other foods and drinks we have consumed in the past, and for the most part, that serves us well. But take a more structured approach, and you may find that comparing coffee flavours suddenly becomes a far more exciting prospect. So, select a coffee from every major growing region in the world at, and ready your palate for its first coffee taste test.

Give it a sniff

Smell and taste are intrinsically linked, and one can’t exist without the other. Have you ever had a cold or the flu which has affected your ability to taste food? This phenomenon has nothing to do with your taste buds; it happens because your blocked nasal passage affects your sense of smell. Start smelling before you brew your coffee – the fragrance of ground coffee can be a great indicator of its quality. Then once you’ve brewed it, its aroma will give you a strong indication of whether or not it’s the coffee for you.

Suck it up

In order to get all the flavour across your tongue, you will need to almost suck your coffee up – being careful to ‘spray’ it across your tongue. Different taste profiles are picked up on different areas of the tongue, so this noisy and almost rude habit is completely acceptable among coffee enthusiasts. Drink it with a spoon – just like you would with a bowl of hot soup.

Identify its main characteristics

Is the coffee intense, or is it light and cleansing. Try to place the coffees you taste into one of three categories: mild, medium and bold. You should also try to assess the coffee’s sweetness. This may not sound like a characteristic that would be associated with coffee, but tasting several different blends and ‘single-origins’ during the same session will help your palate to discern the differences.

Is the coffee acidic or ‘citrus-like’? You will be left with little residue in your mouth and a sharp bite in the back of your throat if it is. And is the coffee full of body, or is it light and refreshing. Just like fine wine, these characteristics will determine when you drink different coffees and which foods you eat with them.

Select from a range of coffees from around the world at, and start your very own coffee laboratory in the comfort of your own home – you could be surprised at what you discover.

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