Whether this is your first time reading this blog or your 1,000th stop here, I have this feeling that you know a little bit more about coffee than your friends. You may not be a coffee expert, but you can make a pretty good cup of coffee. Now it’s time to share that experience and show off your coffee brewing equipment. So this weekend, invite some friends over or at least tell your significant other to hold back the cream and sugar for a few seconds, so you can have a coffee tasting together.
To do a coffee tasting at home, you don’t need much more than a coffee, a way to brew that coffee and a coffee cup, however the cool people over at Kahlua sent me a little package to make things more interesting. In their brunch club basket was a bag of coffee from New Harbor Coffee Traders, a French Press, a pair of glass mugs, spoons dipped in chocolate and a bottle of Kahlua. I know the chocolate covered spoons and Kahlua isn’t exactly part of the standard for a coffee tasting, but it’s a good way to lure in friends and family that wouldn’t normally be interested in doing a coffee tasting.
How To Have An Informal Coffee Tasting
For our informal coffee tasting, all you need is some coffee. I’d say 2-4 different types of coffee. You’ll need a way to brew that coffee. I suggest a French Press, because they extract more aromas and flavors, so it’ll be easier for everyone to identify what they’re smelling and tasting. You’ll need a coffee mug or two for everyone. For now, keep the milk and sugar away. They cover up the aromas and tastes that you’re trying to taste. If you can’t resist the urge to use them, it might be time to upgrade your coffee.
Brew the first coffee and fill everyone’s cup a quarter full. I like a quarter full because it’s enough coffee where you can get a good taste of it without getting the jitters if you have three or four different coffees.
As your checking out the coffee, have the second coffee brewing in the background.
Before you take the first sip, smell the coffee. Don’t be afraid to bury your nose into the cup to get the full aroma. Talk to your friends about what you smell. Does the aroma remind you of anything? There are no right or wrong answers.
Take a sip and before you try to identify the flavors, notice how it feels in your mouth. How does it feel on your tongue? Is it smooth or bitter? Is there a dustiness? Does it feel light like 2% milk or heavier like whole milk?
Now for the fun part. What does the coffee taste like? What does it remind you of? There’s no right or wrong answers here either. Don’t worry if you don’t taste a lot of flavors, keep tasting more and I’m sure that you’ll taste more and more of the flavors.
If you want to make it fun, break out the Kahlua or the chocolate after you do the initial testing. If you found a coffee that you don’t like, don’t be afraid to put some Kahlua into it. If you found some chocolate flavors, try the chocolate after you take a sip.
If you’re looking to get more serious on a formal coffee tasting, I suggest checking out Coffee Geek and their series on coffee cupping.
Now for a little bit of notes about the coffee that Kahlua sent me…
Before I taste a new coffee, I like to know the story behind their company, where the coffee comes from, etc. I just like to make sure that I don’t see any of their tasting notes, so I’m not biased by what they tasted.
In this case there wasn’t anything to bias me, or really any information at all about the New Harbor Coffee Traders and it was a 100% Arabica coffee with a full body roast (whatever that means).
The lack of information left me feeling nervous, but I started to fear the worse when I opened the bag and saw that it was pre-ground and not only was it pre-ground, but it was also finely ground. Coffee that is finely ground is perfect for espresso, but not so much for the drip coffee maker that I was using. I was worried that it would clog my coffee maker and flood my counter. Luckily, it brewed without any issues.
The coffee wasn’t the worse case scenario, it wasn’t bad either, more along the lines of average.
It had a generic aroma with faint hints of chocolate and a weak smokiness to it. It was bland.
The taste was better, but still generic. There was a nutty flavor that mixed with the dark roast flavor. I don’t like many dark roasts, but I liked this one. There were hints of chocolate that rounded out the smooth sip.
I couldn’t find any information about the price or where to buy it besides Amazon (where it’s on back order).
Overall, New Harbor Coffee Traders was better than I expected from an anonymous bag with pre-ground coffee, however it was still just average. It earned a three on the Daily Shot Of Coffee scale, you may want to try adding some Kahlua if you try it.
With the next cup of coffee you have, do a little bit of a taste testing yourself, even if you don’t do a full blown coffee tasting with your friends or family. Try identify those flavors and aromas. Let me know how it goes.