Slurping your food and drink loudly is seen as rude in some cultures but in tasting beverages like wine, tea and coffee, it’s quite essential as the oxygenation releases the flavours and aromas. Up to this point, I have never had much of an occassion to taste more than one coffee at a time and this would be a great tasting lesson.
At a recent Coffee Tasting Masterclass with Cafe Direct, we were taught about the fine details of tasting coffee with coffee expert Thierry.
As part of the coffee matching, there was a mini competition to make a dessert to match one the 4 coffees, Kilimanjaro, Mayan Palenque, Machu Picchu or Cloud Forest. Each coffee has its own distinct flavour and characteristics as coffees are much like wine, the flavours are influenced by terroir.
How to Taste Coffee, also called “Cupping”
There are 3 steps to tasting coffee:
When tasting we are looking for these characteristics, fragrance, aroma, acidity, body, flavour, balance, aftertaste.
Fragrance : Firstly, we had to smell each of the 3 ground coffees.
Aroma: This is what we get after adding water to the coffee. Each cup was left to brew for 4 minutes for the aroma to develop. We then had to use a spoon and scoop the liquid away from you and then inhale.
Tasting: Using 2 spoons, we scooped around the edges of the cup to remove the foam that has formed and then had to slurp the coffee to aerate it allowing us to discern more of the characteristics of each coffee. Unforunately, my tastebuds are so insensitive that it was hard to get more than bland, bitter, too strong. Each coffee was quite different when tasted in succession and surprisingly, the flavour profiles changed a lot when we tasted the coffees at a cooler temperature.
We also learnt that different coffees should be drunk at different times of the day, like the Kilimanjaro blend is perfect for a breakfast coffee as it warms your tastebuds.
On the the baking competition
I paired up with the delightful Gill from Tales of Pigling Bland where we attempted a Flourless Chocolate Cake recipe from Ferran Adria’s new cookbook, The Family Meal. Our dessert was chosen to match the Machu Picchu coffee from Peru, which has a nutty and chocolatey flavour. We were given a bag of ingredients to create our dessert.
The recipe is actually really easy and we were all quite anxious to see how it would turn out as there were so few ingredients and steps. The result was surprisingly superb, the recipe yielded a light, spongy and super chocolatey cake. Since we had a bit more time and ingredients, we made some nut brittle to go with the cake and did some fancy plating up, as seen in the picture.
Unfortunately, our dessert didn’t win the competition and the winner was a spiced honey cake made by Team April (aka Rhubarbandrose and 21stCentury Housewife)
Cafe Direct buys their coffee directly from traders and not via Fairtrade or the non Fairtrade register. All the coffees are single estate blends. The coffees are available from leading supermarkets.