How to develop coffee tasting palate? - Page 2

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.
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Randy G.

#11: Post by Randy G. »

SimonPatrice wrote:... That's how I, personally, developed my palate for beer which helped my palate for single malts and now coffee.
Excellent point. Here are two GREAT videos (part 1 and part 2) that teach how to drink fine scotch. It crosses over to coffee and espresso in many helpful ways.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frRonhQdRdQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmE4kyg_Vbo

And that reminds me - need to pick up another bottle of Macallan 12YO this week.
Espresso! My Espresso! - http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com
LMWDP #644

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Marshall

#12: Post by Marshall »

But don't think you have to experience and identify every taste you read in the most florid roaster descriptions. Great "cautionary tale" here (hope no one is a big Robert Parker fan): http://www.hosemasterofwine.blogspot.co ... -fish.html.
Marshall
Los Angeles

markk100

#13: Post by markk100 »

That's a great read Marshall! And you're correct indeed, identifying even a few things out of many over time builds a superb Rolodex of taste to call forward when necessary. So, no need to write the whole novel at once, just drink more coffee (or wine) more frequently! :lol:

Oh, and RP is half the sell out as a laundry list of other 'critics' in that world...IMHO anyway...

I used to pay a lot of attention to trends and scores, now I don't spend an ounce of energy on it. Live and learn, or rather live, learn, than drink what you've learned to live for... :D

Thx again for the link, great blog.

Cheers,

Mark

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Boldjava

#14: Post by Boldjava »

SimonPatrice wrote:... You can start by pay attention to everything you smell and taste and try to put words on it. Tasting coffees (or beers, or single malts, or olive oils, or honeys, or...) with others that have more experience than you do will also help a great deal. ..
8 of us did a "butter throwdown" last month of 1 national and 7 local butters. Great experience, great fun. I even developed a scoring sheet, though not SBAA approved.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1muAUj3 ... JSQSc/edit
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LMWDP #339

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Sardonic_Sardine

#15: Post by Sardonic_Sardine »

Thank you all for your responses!

A lot of you have certainly made a good point of generally opening oneself to more tasting experiences. I think that my exposure to specialty coffee has certainly made me pay much more attention to the aromas and tastes of foods/drinks. Not to mention how it's driven me to discover new foods/flavours and re-examine what I thought I was already familiar with (I was mistaken).

It's really incredible how coffee tasting makes people that much more receptive and mindful!
"Really great things are evident to anybody who's paying attention." - Charles Babinski

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Sardonic_Sardine

#16: Post by Sardonic_Sardine »

Marshall wrote:But don't think you have to experience and identify every taste you read in the most florid roaster descriptions. [/url].
That's a good point, Marshall! Thank you for the rather sardonic and incisive tale!

I find myself (as someone who's enthusiastic about specialty coffee, but with no cultural authority) rather apprehensive and unsure at times. I've read tasting notes after having drank a coffee and thought to myself: 'Yes! I can taste that!" (but inwardly wondering if it was simply the power of suggestion and whether I really had no idea). Not to mention other times when I couldn't taste certain flavours or detect specific aromas, and wondered whether I was somehow deficient/inept.

What I'm trying to do at the moment is develop at least a basic competency in cup tasting. I'd like to build up some rudimentary skills and a basic tasting 'vocabulary'. I think that requires a lot of work, experience, and perhaps a lot of help/guidance along the way. After that, it remains to be seen whether I can further cultivate a more nuanced sense of taste (and uncommon descriptors), and bring a bit more flourish to my descriptions!
"Really great things are evident to anybody who's paying attention." - Charles Babinski

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Sardonic_Sardine

#17: Post by Sardonic_Sardine »

another_jim wrote:The best raw training is triangle testing: set up two cups of one coffee, one of another, shuffle, and pick the odd cup. If you can tell apart coffees from one region easily, e.g. Kenyas, it means you re sensitized to the factors that make Kenyas distinct. The more you know a region, the easier it becomes. Once you can do this with a lot of regions, you will be good taster.
Thank you for your response, Jim.

From your signature/website, I gather that you're an incredibly experienced coffee cupper. I'd certainly like to start cupping coffees at home once I set everything up and gain a bit more knowledge about what to do/look for. I'll definitely refer to Lingle's Flavour Wheel and study his book on cupping.

Do you have any advice for 'solitary' coffee cupping? It's just me at the moment and I'm wondering how to go about it. I've been to a few public cuppings before (though not in the same country which I'm currently residing in). If I'm by myself, do I cup less coffees? Perhaps even just one? Any other advice?
"Really great things are evident to anybody who's paying attention." - Charles Babinski

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another_jim
Team HB

#18: Post by another_jim »

markk100 wrote: I might suggest that you not develop a palate specific to coffee, rather leverage multiple disciplines to develop an awesome palate.
There are several kinds of tasting and taste.

What Mark is describing here is taste as a form of culture and cultivation -- learning to recognize the good things in life. This is less about blind tasting, learning varietals etc etc, and more about learning the whole foodie, wine, spirits, and now coffee culture. This includes both developing a good all around palate and becoming knowledgeable in what's being done and talked about within this world.

What I was describing is taste as a form of quality control. Every Coca Cola syrup plant has a tasting panel that compares samples being produced there to reference samples. They may not know much about molecular cuisine and single barrel bourbons; but they do know very exactly what Coke tastes like. Dove soap has trained testers washing their hands to the same effect, and Wrigley has testers chew gum. This kind of tasting sounds terribly boring; but if you want to be a coffee expert, it's what you have to learn.

I am an advocate of the second kind of tasting as a big part of being a productive hobbyist. This is especially true of those who recommend coffees and gear; and I take a very dim view indeed of people who make detailed production and product recommendations based on the first kind of tasting. However, the two kinds of tasting need each other. The technical tasters produce the goods, while the cultured tasters are the audience who ultimately decides whether those goods are worthy or not.

Robert Parker's influence on wine is a good case in point. He gained his reputation as a very acute technical taster, but has since graduated into being a wine culture impressario. From this position, his influence on the general level of wine appreciation and demand has been wonderful; demand and appreciation have skyrocketed, and the quality of wine at every price level has improved. But at the same time, his influence on technical wine making has been almost catastrophic; resulting in an endless stream of cookie cutter reds that taste like glycerinated grape jelly.

In short, being a hobbyist is not just about appreciation, but also about participating the the production of the thing. In in order to participate, you need to become a technical proficient taster as well as a cultured one.
Jim Schulman

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Eastsideloco

#19: Post by Eastsideloco »

Sardonic_Sardine wrote:Do you have any advice for 'solitary' coffee cupping? It's just me at the moment and I'm wondering how to go about it. I've been to a few public cuppings before (though not in the same country which I'm currently residing in). If I'm by myself, do I cup less coffees? Perhaps even just one? Any other advice?
Coffee Geek has some info on cupping at home:

http://www.coffeegeek.com/guides/beginn ... stepbystep

Also, here's a link to an inexpensive cupping kit that made their holiday gift list:

http://coffeegeek.com/opinions/coffeeat ... -2013/8:25

(You don't need any special gear to do cupping at home. It's just available if you want it.)

One of the specialty coffee shops here in Austin does twice weekly cuppings. They cup three coffees per event. That's probably a good number for home purposes.

If you only cup one coffee, you don't get to compare it to anything. If you have two or three coffees, you can ask basic questions like, which coffee has more body? or which has more acidity? You can certainly cup with just two coffees, but comparing three coffees is probably a more interesting exercise—if you can find a way to do it without wasting coffee.

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Sardonic_Sardine

#20: Post by Sardonic_Sardine »

Thank you for the links, David!

I'll definitely start cupping coffees as soon as my grinder arrives. I could potentially use my hand grinder to cup coffee, but it may be a bit of a hassle to clean in it between each grind.

In the meantime though, I'll read up as much as I can, drink lots of different coffees, and continue tasting more foods. Perhaps I'll look for around for local public coffee cuppings, but they may be a little bit harder to find here.
"Really great things are evident to anybody who's paying attention." - Charles Babinski