How to become a coffee connoisseur?
Reading the title, you must be wondering, Can I really become one? Is it challenging? Does it have fruitful results? Well, it is the path you chose, so how will you find the answer to these questions if not walk on it?
Sitting idle does not do any good.
A doctor does years of studies to understand human anatomy, and musicians try out every tune to get that perfect melody. Wine and whiskey sommeliers have tried every varietal to gain the level of knowledge- to make our drinks more enjoyable. Similarly, a coffee expert or coffee connoisseur experiments and understands – and with their techniques, they make coffee, a much more exciting drink.
Below is the list of basic steps that you must follow to become a coffee connoisseur. So, grab your favorite cup of joe and let’s find out. Shall we?
1.Experiment with your palate:
The palate is an ability- to taste the food and drink - and detect the differences in tastes and flavours.
Many people consume their coffee without knowing what they like and how to make it - and you probably being one of them.
A coffee connoisseur has a well-exercised palate because they experiment with different tastes and flavours all the time. Currently, you may not be an expert on the palate, but you can develop it with continuous practice. Unless you have not experimented with different beans, their roasting types, and different techniques, you will never know what is it that you really like.
The five basic profiles are: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami (savoury). Once you understand the difference in the flavour profiles, you will be able to - detect the differences in every cup of coffee you sip and eventually understand - your preferred cup of joe.
Speciality Coffee Association of America has developed a coffee taste wheel that will help you to decipher all the flavours and taste profiles.
2. Know Your beans:
P.C: Coffee Affection
Without being aware of the different bean types used in your cup of coffee, you are nowhere even near to becoming a coffee expert.
According to the National Association of USA, there are nearly 25 to 100 species of the coffee plant. Do not worry – knowing all these bean types is not necessary. You need to know only four bean types, primarily sourced, and consumed globally, and how they taste.
Arabica has a sweeter, more delicate flavour and the coffee itself tends to be less acidic. Coffee arabica plantation is done mostly in the areas with higher elevations above sea level, particularly in areas with heavy rainfall. It is a globally preferred bean type and is highly favourable by roasters. Many big coffee franchises such as Starbucks use only Arabica beans in their coffee to maintain the standard of their drink’s flavour and taste. Arabica coffee beans account for 60-70 per cent of global production.
Second on the list is Robusta coffee beans, accounting for 30-40% of global production - it’s the second-most widely farmed and consumed coffee bean. Known for its often harsh and strong flavour profile- Robusta coffee tends to have a high level of caffeine. It is mostly used - in instant coffees and high roasts. Farmers yield higher profits from this bean as it is highly resistant to pests and diseases and highly adaptable, making it easier to farm.
Accounting for less than 1% of the global production, coffee Liberica is a rare treat. Liberica has a - strong and unique flavour- where some describe it as a bean with a woody taste. The caffeine concentration in Liberica is the lowest compared to the other two cultivars – Arabica and Robusta. Grown as the main species in the Philippines and Malaysia, Liberica prefers a specific climate- that is why they do not satisfy the global marketplace.
One of the rarest types of coffee, Excelsa accounts for only a fraction of the global coffee production. It was considered a unique type of coffee until 2006 - when it was officially classified- as part of the Liberica family. Because of its rarity, this bean is very expensive compared to the other three cultivars. It possesses a tart and fruity body with a strong aroma. Considered a proven delicacy by connoisseurs, this type of bean is used to give an extra boost of flavour and complexity, affecting the front and back palate.
Of course, you can take a ride to the nearest café to get your favourite drink, but what’s more fun than brewing your own coffee?
Here are a few of the widely preferred brewing methods.
a) French-Press: Add 4tbsp of ground beans to the carafe. Pour 2 cups of almost boiling water and stir the grinds. Place the plunger over the water and wait for 4 minutes. Slowly depress the plunger after a total of 5 minutes and enjoy your coffee.
b) Pour-over: Set cone filter atop pour-over. Add 2 cups of almost boiling water, slowly saturate the ground, and let it sit for 45 seconds. Pour water and leave it- to fully brew the coffee. Remove the pour-over and filter and enjoy your freshly brewed coffee.
c) Auto-drip method: Add a filter into the coffee basket and pour 4tbsp of ground coffee in the filter, making sure- it's evenly spread out. Pour the proper ratio (16 oz) of filtered water into the back of the brewer and turn it on. Wait until it is - fully brewed - and you can enjoy your coffee.
d) Moka pot: Fill the lower tank with cold water. Place the filter inside the lower tank and fill the filter with ground coffee. Tightly screw the top of the coffee pot to the tank and place the coffee pot on your stovetop burner and bring it to boil. When the top of the coffeepot is full of coffee, take the coffee pot off the burner and enjoy your delicious coffee.
4. Grind your own beans:
Even though the coffee packages have a mentioned roasting date, coffee has a shelf life. What good will your brewing methods bring to the coffee if your bean is not freshly roasted?
Where the brewing method determines how coarse or fine the coffee is ground, grinding helps get the most flavour in a cup of coffee.
Buying your own grinder - and grinding your own coffee at home will help you squeeze the flavour out of the beans. The aromatic cup of freshly roasted and freshly brewed coffee will even swoon your neighbours.
At this point, you must be wondering, mastering all this information is nothing less than deciphering a cipher code. But this is the path that you chose, and once you master these steps, you are probably never going to look back.
If you want to go the extra mile, you can even attend coffee cuppings. Although before – it was only for the professionals, nowadays there is an increased encouragement for new coffee aficionados. All the old tried and tested methods are boring. Experimenting with different flavours and brewing methods will not only help you to develop a well-exercised palate but will also help you to make your very own new exciting recipes. And who knows, one day this passion of yours will end up being a highly profitable profession – barista.