Imagine being able to sip on your coffee and describe it as more than just “bitter” or “strong”.
There’s so much more to the experience of coffees that you may not necessarily realise unless you like to try out different ones and you’ve built somewhat of an expertise in identifying various aspects of it.
One such aspect is called tasting notes. They are nothing but subtle flavour sensations resulting from the origin of the coffee plant, the way it is grown, processed and roasted.
What is intriguing about this element is that you can sometimes find the most unusual tasting notes and wonder how they came to be. Think about it, how can coffees possibly carry a hint of apricot or green pepper for that matter?
Some may consider these to be a result of artificial or additional flavouring added to coffee, but that’s not the case.
Keep reading to know all about what tasting notes are like and how roasters identify them.
What are Tasting Notes?
Tasting notes have a lot to do with the natural flavour present in the coffee bean. They can also be derived from a combination of other factors that affect the final brew, such as region of coffee cultivation, level of roast, etc.
The reason you’re able to get a hint of a blueberry note or a lemon note is that the compounds present in these are also organically present or brought out in the coffee bean.
Tasting notes are not usually dominant. Rather, they are more of underlying hints. So you don’t need to worry about your coffee tasting like a milkshake or a fruit juice.
Just like there are varieties of mangoes, apples, and grapes, there are varieties of coffee too, which ultimately lends the coffee beans the difference in organic composition.
Common Tasting Notes
Tasting notes can vary within batches of coffee coming from the same country. They are more myriad than you’d think. That said, there are some common tasting notes present in coffees accessible around the world.
First, let’s understand the categories of these tasting notes.
You can differentiate them distinctly in terms of whether they are floral, fruity, spicy, nutty, caramelly, earthy, and so on. Within each of these categories, there are more variations that give you specific tasting notes.
Chocolatey, lemony, and nutty are three of the most common tasting notes in the world.
If we take chocolate, for example, the reason why many coffees have this flavour is because of the similarity in the soil in which the cacao trees and coffee plants are grown.
Moreover, coffee beans can take on a chocolatey flavour when they are roasted for longer. This is because the roasting process caramelises the sugar in the bean, giving it that flavour you are used to in chocolate.
There’s a science behind the presence of each tasting note in coffee, which we can perhaps go into in a later blog post.
How Do Roasters Identify Distinct Tasting Notes?
Roasters and others in the coffee industry, over the course of their work, develop an acute sense of aromas and tastes through a process called cupping.
This is done multiple times in the process of roasting and brewing coffee to identify how each step affects the flavour profile.
In a cupping session, roasters go through multiple samples of coffee. There could be coffees from the same region but different microlots, or the same microlots, but of different processing. You get the gist, right?
The coffee professionals assess the aroma across stages - as grounds and brewed coffee.
By slurping the coffee, they are able to allow the beverage to spread evenly over their tongue. The heavier tasting notes can be experienced at the back of the tongue and lighter, brighter notes at the tip.
Malt, peach, blackcurrant - these are just a few of the more interesting tasting notes you’ll find in the coffees we offer. Give it time and patience; soon, you too will be able to identify flavours on your own.
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