Coffee Tastings at Starbucks
I'll always remember my first coffee tasting. As a partner (employee) at Starbucks I think it's something that stays with you. I tasted our Breakfast Blend with a slice of Lemon Drizzle Loaf. To this day any time I'm introducing someone to the method of tasting coffee I'm always taken back to that afternoon, how I felt (nervous and excited – it was my first day!) and more importantly, what I tasted!
Coffee tastings are our way to share with you the different coffees we offer. Everyone is different and holding a tasting is always an interesting experience – someone may pick up on some herbal flavours you hadn't noticed – or a great food pairing can really change the way you taste and enjoy a particular coffee.
In store we always taste our coffees from a French Press, although we can grind any of our whole bean coffees in store – just let your barista know how you're planning to brew it.
Once you've brewed your coffee there are four steps we like to follow when tasting coffee:
1. Smell - So much of what we taste is determined by what we can smell, so we always start off by smelling the coffee first. Place your hand around your cup and inhale deeply. I've definitely leaned in a little too far a few times and ended up with a warm nose!
2. Slurp - It's important that you slurp the coffee when you taste it as different parts of our tongue are more susceptible to certain tastes than others. It's strange at first but a good rule of thumb is the louder you slurp – the more areas of your tongue the coffee is hitting – and that'll give you a fuller taste of the coffee you're trying.
3. Taste - Try to pick up where you feel the coffee on your tongue. If you're feeling the sides and tip of your tongue tingle (like when you taste something citrusy) we'd describe the coffee as having a high acidity. Coffees that have a high acidity are crisp and bright, coffees with a low acidity feel smoother and they seem to linger on your tongue. Now is also a good time to think about the “weight” of the coffee – that's what we call the body. Think of the difference between whole milk and skimmed milk, which end of the scale does the coffee fall into?
4. Describe - What smells and flavours did you pick up? What does the coffee remind you of? This can vary from person to person and tasting to tasting so there's really no wrong answer. It's personal. Sharing what you taste and listening to others is also a great way to to get help describing that subtle hint of something that you just can't find the word for.
Now that you've thoroughly tasted the coffee it's time to try it with some food. Having a food pairing isn't required but it can really enhance the coffee – and what better reason is there for indulging in something sweet? If you're not sure what to choose, our baristas in store will be happy to recommend something for you.
I hope I've given you some ideas on how to hold your own coffee tasting, if you'd like any more tips why not ask when your local store is holding their next tasting and join in!
Photos by James Warwick - Partner