Over the next few weeks we'll be writing a series of blogs that focus on how to maximise your coffee experience, inspired by the type of questions we receive on our coffee experiences.
The first of the experience series is all about flavour. Are wine gums, caramel and strawberry real flavours you can find in a cup of coffee? Or perhaps you like the sound of the Snickers flavoured one?
My cousin called me a hipster when talking about coffee flavours at a family gathering and it got me thinking about why it’s considered hipster for coffee but not for wine or whiskey. These are all NATURAL flavours relating to coffee origin, terroir, altitude and the three key processes below. Thinking of it a bit like wine is definitely a good place to start.
Do you know your Merlot’s from your Pinot Noir’s but ever wondered what a Yellow Bourbon, Heirloom or Typica coffee variety is? Within the Arabica species, there are hundreds of coffee varietals, which have a big impact on flavour, yield and disease resistance. Here are a couple of examples:
The Typica variety is the start from which most of the coffee varietals have been developed is mainly used in Central America, Jamaica and Indonesia, and it delivers a cup that generally has a sweet acidity or maleic acid (think of apples and pears) and a medium body.
Bourbon coffee plants, such as our Brazil Yellow Bourbon, produce 20% to 30% more yield than the Typica varietal and have a bit more complexity and sweetness in the taste profile.
Keep an eye out for a more detailed blog solely focusing on coffee varieties.
Crack up open a bag of our El Cipres from Don Tomas in El Salvador and you should get subtle hints of strawberry and sweetness. This is very typical trait of a natural processed coffee, whereby coffee cherries are picked and dried on tables in the sun. The concentrated pulp infiltrates into the coffee bean, seeing a slow migration of sugars from the mucilage (flesh around the bean) to the coffee bean.
Washed coffees, such as our Ethiopia from the Biftu Gudina coop, are when coffee cherries are depulped (removal of skin and part of mucilage from bean) and dropped into large water tanks and fermented using the higher concentration of moisture, sugar and pectin found in the mucilage. This then passes through water channels until the beans are clean and the water runs clear.
A natural processed coffee can therefore have a lower perceived acidity level but higher body than a washed coffee.
The type of roast can affect what you are tasting in the cup. With speciality coffee, this doesn’t need to be defined as dark or light, but rather as an espresso roast, where you can find more body in your coffee, compared to a filter roast where you can find more acidity. Here are a couple of reasons why roast profile is better related to flavour, rather than strength:
1) roasting should aim to bring out different inherent coffee qualities rather than standardising flavour with a ‘dark’ roast
2) taste is subjective, so for some, the citrus acidity you might find in a Kenyan filter might be perceived as ‘strong’, whereas for others this might be a full-bodied caramel Peruvian
Head to our blog on roast profiles for further details.
We’re only really scratching the surface here. If you’d like to learn more about flavour or indeed taste coffee side-by-side, take a look at our coffee experience dates or try our discovery taster packs – we’re offering free delivery on these until the end of March.