Professionals have fun, what about us? They taste the coffee prior for the buyers. The cuppers (their proper name) get to judge contests, write reviews and so on. However, this experience is available to anyone. Fancy sitting in front of dozens of half-cups of worldwide coffees?
As a cupper, one must taste the flavor, acidity, body, the finer attributes and finish, and smell the aromas. It is simple to reconstruct this experience in your home.
Start with lots of good quality water fresh and filtered. Water can spoil even the best of grounds. Water can be stale because it can of airborne odors, sulfur or mildew. Never use softened or distilled water.
You will also need a tray with at least twelve glasses. Grab measuring spoons and scoops. Oh, yes, you need coffee, too!
Boil your water. Grind your beans in a burr. Try varied settings or the one recommended by one-cup coffee makers, if you happen to own one. Remember the right grind equals the perfect cup.
Steep the coffee in your machine for three minutes. Filter your coffee and let it settle. Spoon some into your glass. Sample it and smell the aroma. Concentrate hard on the aroma. Let the coffee trickle all over your tongue. Hold it in your mouth for three seconds and then spit it into a nearby container.
How would you describe it? A hint of wood? Like wine? Smooth? Acidic? Is it thin or rather syrupy? What about floral or slightly peppered? It is interesting how many types of coffees there are. However, this should come as no surprise as there are so many climates, types of soils and not to mention the ways of preparing them.
Try experimenting with the worlds coffees. Discover that the Mocha from Yemen has a wine like quality, whereas the AA from Kenya is rough and dark. What about the floral coffee from Columbia?
Also try variety – dark down to light; Viennese to American; and fine grind to rather rough. Changing the roast or the grind with the same beans can have different results.
Add about 2 tablespoons or ten grams of your coffee into your machine for every 6 fluid ounces or 180 milliliters of fresh water. Your water should be close to 200 degrees Fahrenheit or 93 degrees Celsius. However, you can alter this also.
Understand coffee elements. An acidic coffee is tart and dry (Mexican +; Sumatran -). The age and roasting will vary this as well. The aroma can be fruity, floral or herby. Bitterness equals more caffeine (robusta +; arabica -). You will detect this when the coffee reaches the back of your tongue. The body refers to thickness (French versus American). Nuttiness (too many ketones and aldehydes) equals bad beans? Then, is there a sharpness (acid combining with salt)? It is acute in cheap robusta.
Experimenting is fun. Experience new blends, and run them through your coffee machine for the final results.