Friday, October 16, 2009

Basic Training Part 3: Taste

There are four categories for the taste of coffee. These four categories are distinct and separate, although they are highly dependent on one another. A simple metaphor for coffee’s taste is: the Lord is One, yet contains three distinct persons; coffee is similar in this aspect for it has a taste to be described, but can be shown to have four elements. These four parts are:

Aroma: This is the first element to meet your palate. As you move to take a sip, what smells do you sense rising from your cup? Is it bitter, sweet, aggressive, muted? Are there hints of herbs, berries, tobacco, or chocolate?

Flavor: No surprise here; the first thing you will taste as you sip your delicious hot beverage is COFFEE! Coffee taste is very powerful and can, if you do not harness it, cause you to miss many other tastes. Beneath the first coffee taste, you may be able to distinguish tastes like wine, chocolate, berries, spiciness, or earthiness.

Acidity: This is the bite at the back of your throat. Before coffee is roasted, its nature is very acidic. As the coffee is roasted, it is progressively mellowed out, which is why the darker a roast gets, the more smooth and less acidic the coffee tastes. Although much of the acidity is removed during the roasting process, it also loses substantial amounts of inherent flavor.

Body: Body is the most abstract of all the elements compromising coffee’s taste. How does the coffee FEEL in your mouth? The beverage’s body will answer that question. An easier way of conceptualizing body would be to imagine what drinking water feels like compared to milk, then honey, then perhaps, motor oil. Which feels the heaviest in your mouth; what feels the lightest? The heavier the sensation in your mouth, the more body the coffee is said to contain.

Here are some typical taste generalizations (and I emphasize "typical" "generalizations"):

Central American: Nutty, smooth, and fragrant with average acidity levels.
South American: More mild and soft with significant acidity levels.
African: Sharp, aggressive, robust, and assertive with a great crisp finish.
Asian: Smooth and syrupy with lower acidity and higher body and flavorful notes.
Indonesian (yes, this is Asian, but worthy of separate description): Very similar to Asian, but spicier with a complex earthy body.

Lord, thank you so much for great coffee. I especially appreciate that coffee can grow in so many places with so many tastes. Keep my head deflated and on straight. Here we go.

No comments:

Post a Comment