Recognise the flavours of coffee when cupping at home

How to recognize the flavors of coffee like a pro

Learning to perceive coffee flavors means drinking coffee of different varieties and countries of origin. The range of coffee flavours is truly diverse and it would be a shame to deprive yourself of these experiences. Not sure how to choose coffees in interesting combinations?

With our coffees, we know virtually every bean, so you can leave the selection to us. And if you want to feel really professional at the tasting, we'll equip you with everything you need for cupping.

Coffee flavour triangle test

At cupping competitions, coffee professionals undergo the so-called "triangle test". The challenge of the competition is to taste a set of eight stations with three cups of coffee in each station as quickly as possible. In doing so, they determine the taste differences of each trio of coffees to determine which of the three cups contains a different coffee (two contain the same sample of coffee).

You can try a similar test yourself. Prepare the coffees using one of the alternative coffee brewing methods, such as the popular French Press.

Flavouring coffee as a way of learning the differences in taste

For more distinctive flavor notes stirred in your cup, take the help ofcoffee syrups and one helper. Ask a friend to flavour a sample of coffee with syrup. It will then be up to you to recognize the flavored coffee and identify the flavor used.

This exercise will guide you through the sweet, fruity or nutty flavours in coffee in particular. But how do you identify the different types of acidity or sourness so natural to coffee? You can do the same. You don't use syrups but a drop of food acid and 5 cups of water.

Add 0.2g of malic acid to one cup, 0.2g of tartaric acid to the next, the 3rd cup should have 0.2g of phosphoric acidaccording to Régine Guion-Firmin's (sensory trainer)instructions, enrich the penultimate cup with 0.2g of lactic acid and leave one cup as a reference sample without acidity. Blind taste and try to assign acidities correctly.

And why is taste testing important for coffee tasting?

The specific description of the flavours acts as a reference factor. In essence, it is a "tongue calibration". Instead of rating "I like the coffee", you will be able to accurately say that it has a pleasant chocolate taste. You'll impress the company as a coffee connoisseur and know what you like and don't like when ordering coffee.

Once you're able to find the differences in flavours, get down to the business of accurately describing flavours. This is where the coffee flavour circle will help you. When using it, work from the centre outwards. Identify the direction the flavours are going: acidity, sweetness,... Then work outside the circle and try to define the perceived sweetness.

Tasting Tips & Tricks

When tasting large quantities of coffee, for example at a public cupping, you may not like the amount of caffeine you take into your body with the coffee. A perfectly common technique is to spit out a sample of coffee, after sipping and rolling it around in your mouth. You'll get to know the flavors and avoid "caffeination". And if you need a so-called palate cleanser, I recommend a piece of bread, milk, water or soda, or a cucumber.

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