Thursday, February 7, 2008

Tasting coffee

Tasting coffee.

After reading how we cup coffee, you might be wondering... is this really any way to enjoy coffee? Well, no.

Our formal process of cupping coffee is all about evaluating coffees... it really has little to do with enjoying them. When we want to enjoy a cup we brew some in a press pot, or vacuum pot, or take a stroll over to the coffee lab and enjoy the coffee team's fabulous espresso drinks.

Cupping coffee is a ritual... and outside of Arabia and Ethiopia, there really are no similar rituals for folk who aren't in the coffee industry.

Or are there?

Consider the breakfast cup. For millions of people their day simply hasn't begun 'til they've had their morning cup — whether alone, or in the company of croissant, beignet, bagels or bacon and eggs. There is perhaps no more contemplated cup in the world.

Consider the ritual of the dessert cup. Whether your after-dinner treat is tiramisu, death by chocolate, or a few chocolate chips, there are few better companions than an equally rich cup of fresh-brewed coffee.

There are more... coffee and biscotti. Coffee and Mozart. Even coffee and Zen. No rituals, indeed.

Savoring a great cup of coffee deserves a ritual. It merits taking some time. Paying attention. Freeing yourself to be fully in the moment. We suggest the following:

  1. Grind your coffee. Note the fragrance of the fresh-ground beans... spicy, earthy, perhaps nutty.
  2. Brew your coffee. Enjoy the aroma as it brews... heady and full of promise.
  3. Pour your coffee. Find a comfy place to sit. Feel the cup warm your hand.
  4. Sample the aroma of the cup. Is it sweet? Fruity? Notes of caramel?
  5. Breathe.
  6. Sip your coffee. Go ahead... slurp it if you like. Focus on its flavor... is it complex? Is it direct, straightforward?
  7. Breathe out through your nose. Savor the aromas that waft through your sinuses... are there herbal notes? Fruit?
  8. Sip your coffee again. Wiggle your tongue. Does the coffee feel heavy? Viscous? Or is it light and delicate?
  9. Breathe out through your mouth... feel your breath on your tongue. What new flavors and aromas do you sense?
  10. Repeat, as often as you like.

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