How to develop coffee tasting palate? - Page 3

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Sardonic_Sardine

#21: Post by Sardonic_Sardine »

another_jim wrote: 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.
I found your entire post really insightful, Jim (I was literally pointing to the screen and yelling vociferously in agreement)!

In relation to your analogy on Robert Parker, I vaguely remember an earlier episode of Tamper Tantrum (from a few years ago) where Steve Leighton talked about how public taste/demand was causing coffee farmers to rip up their existing crops in order to plant Gesha. This of course came at the expense of producing a wider diversity of varietals, which could have possibly turned out to be great coffees.

I think that with technical proficiency in tasting comes a greater appreciation of a more heterogeneous product. In the trenchant words of Benjamin 'Ben' Parker (another Parker!): "With great power comes great responsibility."
"Really great things are evident to anybody who's paying attention." - Charles Babinski

happycat

#22: Post by happycat »

Another approach is mindfulness. The more mindful you are to an experience, the more you get out of it and the more relaxed you can be in your appreciation of what is there (vs constantly measuring for what is not there, either in the experience itself or in your own ability to measure it). Judgment comes from an accumulation of mindfulness, the development of a set of heuristics based on context vs. error detection based on rules.
LMWDP #603

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Boldjava

#23: Post by Boldjava »

happycat wrote:Another approach is mindfulness. The more mindful you are to an experience, the more you get out of it and the more relaxed you can be in your appreciation of what is there...
+1.
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LMWDP #339

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another_jim
Team HB

#24: Post by another_jim »

happycat wrote: Judgment comes from an accumulation of mindfulness.
When a farmer sees an insect on a coffee tree, can your exercise in mindfulness tell him it's a pest? Can someone walking in on your job, and being mindful about it, do it just as well as you can?

In Buddhism, several million lifetimes of mindfulness are said to be required to achieve enlightenment. Is that the accumulation you had in mind?

I think its important to encourage newbies without being treating the skills they want to acquire with contempt.
Jim Schulman

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boar_d_laze

#25: Post by boar_d_laze »

Palate development benefits from feedback. Classes are good, so is a buddy.

Palate development goes hand in hand with learning to use your machinery to adjust the taste of shots. Nothing will teach you bitter like brewing too hot, or sour by by brewing too cold. As you dial in your machine and grinder, you dial in your palate.

Similarly every time you dial in a new bean, your palate can (and should) improve.

When you taste a cup -- think and consider what you're tasting. I think that's what Dave meant by "mindfulness."

To the extent you want your notes to be meaningful to you (and the person to whom you're talking), it's more important to use evocative vocabulary "Grandma's pancakes," or "Julie's hair," than to use official terminology.

My daughter developed her ability to sort tastes as an enthusiastic cook and wine drinker. It translates very well to coffee. Today she said the coffee I sent her -- a Mexico COE entry, roasted with a Diedrich style slow start and fast finish -- "started "smooth, but lingered male." I knew she meant that it was front loaded with "caramel," and finished "tobacco and leather," before she went on to explain. Not just because I roasted the coffee, but because she has such a scary sense of what words mean to her listeners.

Salud!

BDL
Drop a nickel in the pot Joe. Takin' it slow. Waiter, waiter, percolator

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Sardonic_Sardine

#26: Post by Sardonic_Sardine »

Thank you for your response, Rich.

I've certainly been closely monitoring how I've brewed my coffees and what effect that has had on the flavour. It's gotten quite consistent in terms of extraction, so perhaps the next step would be to intentionally overextract or underextract to see how that affects the taste in the cup.

What I've been doing so far in terms of flavours is to try and detect the flavours usually outlined on the packaging. If a coffee is 'supposed' to taste berry-like or citrusy, can I detect those notes? As you said, the more coffee I drink, the more flavours I'll be exposed to. So hopefully, after more tasting, I'll be able to detect certain flavours more readily. Perhaps as was mentioned previously in the thread, I'll be able to build greater knowledge on what beans grown in certain regions typically taste like.

I think that part of the idea of tasting notes is certainly personal, but I also think that it's important to develop a 'base' vocabulary that allows for better communication between coffee tasters. (Are we tasting the same flavours or detecting the same aromas? What do certain designations 'mean'?)

I'll certainly aim to be more mindful when drinking my coffee (in the sense of trying to uncover what specific flavours and aromas I 'should be' detecting). Not to mention reading more, tasting more, and generally learning more!
"Really great things are evident to anybody who's paying attention." - Charles Babinski

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rama

#27: Post by rama »

another_jim wrote: The trick is not to second guess yourself; always go with your first impression.
Good advice.

As for Robert Parker, it seems his palate has become more monochromatic with time. :|

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Italyhound

#28: Post by Italyhound »

rama wrote: As for Robert Parker, it seems his palate has become more monochromatic with time. :|
Big +1.

As a long time wine drinker, I have seen his consistent descent into now routinely orgasming over spoofulated grape juice. When I see his big ratings on a bottling, I know to avoid them like the plague. It's cheaper to do so, and you won't get trampled by lemmings in the process trying to acquire them.

Still, like coffee, most unaware people equate 'big', 'expensive' and 'strong' with quality. Look at Starbucks.

It's also happening to bottled water now, for cryin' out loud. :roll:
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