Tasting process happens in two different places: in our mouths and in our noses. When learning to taste and talk about coffee, these two parts of the process, you need to think separately. First part of the process occurs on the tongue. And it’s the place where you can detect the basic tastes of acidity, sweetness, bitterness, saltiness, and savorness. In the coffee packaging when you read the description of that coffee; describing the flavors, for examples: berries, chocolate, caramel, etc. these flavors are detected the same way as smells, by the olfactory bulb in the nasal cavity.
Professionally, coffee tasters record the notes while experiencing coffee in a score sheet. For the taste, they taste the basic tastes. Acidity: how acidic is the coffee? Is there unpleasant acidity? or a lot of pleasant acidity that however gives the coffee a crispness or juiciness. Mouthfeel: whether the coffee have a light, delicate, or even more like rich and creamy cup. Balance: one of the most difficult aspects of a coffee to assess, since the taste of one good cup of coffee needs to be well-mixed or harmonious.
Coffee industry uses a standardized practice called “cupping” to taste coffee. The idea behind cupping is to avoid any impact on flavor from the brewing process and to treat all coffees being tasted as equally as possible (Hoffman, James. The World Atlas of Coffee. Great Britain:Octopus 2014.). A fixed amount if coffee is weighed for each bowl. It is ground at a fixed setting and then added with a specific amount of water, just off the boil, is added. The coffee then will be left to steep for four minutes. The floating grounds and foam that remained at the top of the bowl need to be skimmed off. And here you go, the coffee is ready to taste. If you ever heard coffee tasters loudly slurp the sample of a coffee from the spoon, this is not wrong. Loudly slurping can spreads the coffee to the back of the tongue. So you can measure the aspects of the coffee taste, specifically the body, sweetness, acidity, flavour, and aftertaste a little easier.
For you who interested in cupping session, yes you can practice to observe the tastes and aromas of brewed coffee with us. It is usually a professional practice but can be done also informally by everyone as long as it still supervised by Coffee Q Grader/ Assessor. Kindly keep an eye to this website or Caswell’s Coffee social media account (Facebook: Caswells Coffee; Twitter: @caswellscoffee; Instagram: @caswellscoffee) for further info and Cupping schedule.