‘Hmm, I don’t know how to drink coffee.’
Body– Mouth feel of coffee. Think water and milk, it is the weight of coffee feels in our mouth. The body of coffee ranges from thin, to light, to heavy depending on fat content. Coffee that is roasted darker usually has heavier body due to higher fat content that is released during the roasting process.
Aftertaste – The finish. It is a taste that remains in the mouth subsequent to swallowing a sip of coffee. Aftertastes range from chocolaty to carbony, turpeny to spicy, possibly with hints of caramel, fruitiness, smokiness, roastiness, and other flavors.
The professionals train their sensory skill like a pianist train his hands – it is all about practice, practice and practice. They build up their very own insane sensory database with the mission to detect the subtlest difference in coffee.
Given the fact that coffees from different region taste differently, there is no single standard to evaluate coffee, as we can’t find what is absent in a coffee and dump it into ‘bad coffee’ category without getting to know it (think finding Y chromosome in female DNA).
A general example of single origin coffee profile look like this:
You know for sure whether you like a coffee or not even though you don’t know how to evaluate it. That is your expectation of coffee which is often based on early experience, palate, and the flavour that you grow up with.
For example, in Malaysia, people grow up drinking robusta coffee that is roasted with sugar and margarine, often served with condensed milk and sugar to cover the bitterness. Our brain is locked into a strong association between coffee and bitterness due to the type of coffee we have locally.
The professionals are seeking for the excitement and thrill in discovering original flavour of coffee from different origin; while the consumers are seeking for experience of coffee that their memory holds.
Do you simply the beauty of moment when you take your first sip in the morning? Does it give you a space to free your mind? Do you appreciate the connection you build while having coffee? Do you appreciate learning about the diversities of coffee?
As a coffee provider, you can tell the consumer what they should like (educating them about original flavour of coffee and insist preparing a lighter roast coffee where the flavour shines); or you can do what consumer like (do the roast that your customers’ palate are used to).
If this is still bothering you, start exploring coffee by asking barista about the flavour profile of the beans that they use to make your cup of joe. A good barista should understand how the roast level, the grind size, the dosage, the brew parameter and the extraction time of coffee interact to produce the taste they are looking for in that particular coffee. A great barista would love to share that with you.