Learn to Taste Like a Professional

coffee cupping specialty coffee for beginners

In the world of coffee, cupping is an art that allows us to appreciate and understand the complexities of this delicious beverage. From aromas to the subtlest flavor nuances, it invites us to immerse ourselves in a world of sensations and discoveries. In this blog, we will explore together the fascinating world of coffee cupping, from the basics to advanced techniques, and, above all, how to prepare it like a professional.

A coffee is more than just a "strong," "smooth," or "bitter" drink, adjectives we often use when asked for an opinion on coffee. If you're curious about truly examining the gastronomic pleasures of a cup of coffee and discovering the idiosyncrasies that can emerge from it, a complex world unfolds, often lacking adjectives to describe its varied aromas and different flavors.

Petrona Perez is a coffee with citrusy, fruity and floral notes.

Light Roast Coffee

It is undeniable that the aroma of coffee is one of the most pleasurable scents. There's nothing like the smell of it when you wake up in the morning. In fact, coffee is possibly one of the most complex foods in its chemical composition. More than 800 compounds contributing to its wide range of aromas and flavors have been identified. This is almost three times more than the compounds found in wine! Similar to a wine sommelier, a coffee taster has the ability to identify both good and bad characteristics of coffee by describing its aroma, sweetness, acidity, body, and balance.

Features to look for in good coffee:

Fragrance and Aroma Before taking the first sip, a good coffee drinker typically inhales its aroma. Fragrance is what we smell when the ground beans are dry, and aroma is what the beans release when soaked in hot water. Here, you begin to distinguish "floral," "fruity," or "chocolaty" characteristics that anticipate the coffee's taste. With some practice, just by smelling the fragrance, you can start differentiating between coffees from different regions, varieties, and processes.

Taste During cupping, sweetness will be the first to appear, followed by saltiness, acidity, and finally bitterness. High-quality coffee presents a balance between acidity and sweetness. A professional taster looks for a good taste that lingers even as it cools, indicating a high-quality coffee.

Acidity Found in high-altitude coffees, acidity is a desirable characteristic that should not be confused with sourness or bitterness. It's the property that brings the cup to life, giving its flavor marked and vibrant qualities. Without enough acidity, coffee tends to be flat and without personality. For example, coffees from the Huehuetenango region stand out for their marked and delicate acidity.

Body Body refers to the thickness of the coffee in the mouth, its viscosity, weight, and how it is perceived on the tongue. This characteristic is related to the oils and substances extracted during the infusion.

Balance Balance demonstrates a harmony of the characteristics noted in the cup. An excellent coffee will present sufficient sweetness, body, and acidity, with none of these being too intense to overshadow the rest. Just like Antigua Guatemala coffees that stand out for their excellent balance.

HOW TO CONDUCT A TASTING WITH OUR GENTO KIT?

Our tasting kit is designed as a personalized experience. There are several ways to enjoy this kit and develop your nose and palate: You can prepare the coffees using a pour-over method (V-60, Chemex, etc.) of your choice and taste them over several days, making sure to note your observations in the Gento Coffee Tasting Journal. Alternatively, you can conduct a professional cupping; we share the steps below.

MATERIALS

  • Small cups or bowls
  • Hot water (200°C)
  • Spoons
  • Tasting kit (ground)
  • Gento Coffee Tasting Journal
  • Pencil or pen

STEPS

  1. Heat water to 200°C (do not overheat to avoid over-extraction).
  2. Grind the coffees with a medium-fine grind.
  3. Place each ground coffee in small cups or bowls, for a total of 10.
  4. Put 10 grams of coffee in each cup. Smell the fragrance and note it in the Coffee Tasting Journal.
  5. For every 10 grams of coffee, pour 182 ml of hot water into each cup. Take your time while pouring the water. Now, smell the aroma.
  6. At the 4:00 minute mark, break the crust.
  7. Clean the grounds without stirring too much.
  8. Wait until the 12:00 minute mark to start tasting the coffee. Ensure to slurp with a big sip, savoring the characteristics of the coffee and noting them down. You can spit out the coffee after each sip.
  9. Taste each coffee multiple times, evaluating its characteristics and consistency from hot to cold. A good coffee will maintain its characteristics as it cools.

REMEMBER With fresh and high-quality coffees, you not only delight your palate but also have the opportunity to distinguish aromas and flavors, finding differences and becoming interested in the origin of their characteristics. Any coffee lover could find this activity interesting and enriching. With a bit of practice, it's possible to appreciate the difference between the good, the bad, and the different and truly enjoy a good cup of coffee of your preference.


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