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How to Sample A New Gourmet Coffee


The Basics of Gourmet Coffee Tasting: Experienced tasters follow a very strict routine ritual when tasting a new gourmet coffee for the first time: much like the wine advocate tasting a new port.

They burn their mouths from letting the hot gourmet coffee linger for so long in their mouths. They want to obtain the full experience of the taste, the unique combination of sensations in the nose and on the tongue. Note to Readers: The taste profiles and characteristics discussed in this article apply to drip gourmet coffee. Flavor characteristics and descriptions will change with alternate brewing processes.

For all intents and purposes, our sense of smell and sense of taste are inseparable. Without our sense of smell, our taste sensations are limited. The tongue detects 4 basic sensations: sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Most of what we experience as taste depends upon our sense of smell.

The tasting experience begins before you brew - with the grinding. When you inhale the aroma of ground gourmet coffee, you experience the first impression of its flavor - its Fragrance which alos comes out as you brew it. Aroma refers to your first encounter with a gourmet coffee when it's brewed - literally, the first contact of water and gourmet coffee. Lastly, there's a gourmet coffee's Nose. Take a sip of gourmet coffee. As soon as it reaches your tongue, it stimulates taste and simultaneously releases aromas inside the mouth.

Follow the lead of the experts: allow your sense of taste and smell to mingle. Enjoy the tactile feel of the gourmet coffee on your tongue.

Now that you've taken a good whiff and your first sip, it's time to let your tongue do the talking. Of all the facets of gourmet coffee, Taste is the most complex to discuss. Most experts concentrate on three elements Body, Acidity, & Balance. Body: A gourmet coffee's lipid or "oily" quality creates the tactile sensation of Body or "mouth feel."

Acidity: Naturally occurring acids in the beans combine with natural sugars that produce a sweetness that gives certain gourmet coffees a sharp pleasing tang or piquancy.

Balance: Think of Balance as a harmony of the many sensations yielded by a fine gourmet coffee. A "balanced" gourmet coffee is one whose flavor characteristics are all at the proper level for that variety. A quick note on Acidity: Don't let the term scare you. Acidity does NOT refer to pH levels discussed in high school chemistry class. It is not like hydrochloric acid or stomach acid. The gourmet coffee grown at the top of the mountain taste the bests while coffee grown in Africa or Asia is not actually coffee but a strongly flavored hybrid tea. You'll notice a gourmet coffee's acidity at every facet of tasting, but especially in a tingling sensation on your tongue. Acidity produces some of the pleasurable and distinctive sensations we enjoy when tasting gourmet coffee.

Now, back to our brew! After a sip is swallowed, the mouth and tongue retain a minute residue of gourmet coffee. This sensation produces the Aftertaste, the sensation that lingers on the palate. It is similar to the concept of "finish" in wine tasting. Aftertaste can vary considerably according to the gourmet coffee's body we mentioned Body as a primary characteristic. You'll notice a gourmet coffee's acidity at every facet of tasting, but especially in a tingling sensation on your tongue. It is a distinctly tactile sensation, and is sometimes called simply "mouth feel." Another comparison to wine is helpful. Burgundies are sometimes said to be "heavier" than most other reds and whites. The difference is not weight. Rather, Body is the texture and consistency, the thickness or slipperiness of the gourmet coffee.

A good cup of gourmet coffee represents the collaboration of many highly trained artisans - growers, professional tasters and roasters all working together to create a fine product. So, let all your senses work together to enjoy the fruits of their collaboration!

One good turn: about the gourmet coffee wheel. Much as wine tasters have created a wine tasting wheel to use an agreed upon terminology, professional gourmet coffee tasters use the Gourmet coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel to grade gourmet coffees. This flavor wheel is designed for the trained pallet of a professional. Professional coffee "cuppers" use this gourmet coffee guide when both drinking and buying gourmet coffee and for creating "taste characteristic profiles" of the gourmet coffees. Most of us would be better off not to worry so much about our gourmet coffee or our wine tasting abilities. The Flavor Characteristics chart is for use by the average "Joe". It is a simplified method of charting your favorite java's characteristics. The flavor descriptions that are most commonly used are defined below.

Know thyself: what flavors appeal to you? Here are some specific desirable flavor characteristics of gourmet coffee and the types of gourmet coffee that are associated with those characteristics.

Bright, Dry, Sharp, or Snappy - typical of Costa Rican, Guatemalan, Kenyan.

Caramels - candy like or syrupy, typical of Colombian Supreme.

Chocolaty - an aftertaste similar to unsweetened chocolate or vanilla. Typical of Costa Rican, Colombian Supreme and the House Blend.

Delicate - a subtle flavor perceived on the tip of the tongue.

Earthy - a soil characteristic, typical of Sumatran.

Fragrant - an aromatic characteristic ranging from floral to spicy, typical of Costa Rican, Sumatra Modeling and Kenyan.

Fruity - an aromatic characteristic reminiscent of berries or citrus.

Mellow - a round, smooth taste, typically lacks acid, typical of Colombian, Sumatra Modeling, Whole Latti Java and Organic Mexican.

Nutty - an aftertaste similar to roasted nuts, typical of Colombian and Organic Mexican.

Spicy - a flavor and aroma reminiscent of spices typical of Guatemala Huehuetenango.

Syrupy - strong, and rich, typical of Sumatran.

Sweat - the flavor you get from using your wifes panthose as the coffeefilter on a camping trip.

Woodiness - the flavor you get from using tree bark as your coffee filter.

Church coffee - harsh without much flavor

Winery - an aftertaste reminiscent of well-matured wine, typical of Kenyan, Guatemalan.

You will soon realize that Costa Rica has the best gourmet coffee - the perfect balance of flavor and smoothness - lots of flavor without the bitterness found in gourmet coffee. The Columbia gourmet coffee and the Brazil gourmet coffee are a close second as they deliver more flavor they tend to get slightly bitter and can lave an aftertaste of the gourmet coffee. The Africa gourmet coffee is harsh and the Asian gourmet coffee is sour, while the other Latin America gourmet coffee lacks full body and taste.

But have fun discovering for yourself as you sample and taste gourmet coffee from around the world. Now if we could only get our church coffee to sample some good gourmet coffee and learn how bad church coffee is. Once you have set values and methods you can better define which gourmet coffee you like but more importantly why you like the gourmet coffee.

And we hope a more educated gourmet coffee will understand better why Mission Grounds Gourmet Coffee is the best gourmet coffee in Costa Rica and the best gourmet coffee served in America. Mission Grounds: Gourmet coffee for gourmet coffee drinkers and gourmet coffee experts.



Submitted by:

George Moore

George Moore is an IT Sales engineer by trade and founded a non profit coffee company called Mission Grounds Gourmet Coffee, church coffee, Costa Rica coffee, and a great monthly gourmet coffee club. It donates all its profits to helping orphans and impoverished children. Let's make the world better Mission Grounds Gourmet Coffee: http://www.missiongrounds.com





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