When you hear of a coffee being described with flavor notes such as peach and pineapple, the coffee isn't necessarily flavored that way. Flavor notes are usually very subtle hints of identifiable tastes in the Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel (above). Here are a few things to do to start tasting flavor notes in coffee:
1. Empty your mind
We drink coffee so often that we tend to filter out what it actually tastes like, similar to how the air in your home is only detectable after you have been gone a while. Begin to actually pull apart the flavors as if every cup of coffee is your first by attempting to forget what coffee tastes like altogether.
2. Familiarize yourself with other foods and flavors
In order to properly taste complex flavor notes such as coriander and rose, you have to actually be able to identify them. When you enter a restaurant or room that has a certain scent, try your best to identify exactly what you're smelling.
3. Skip the cream and sugar
Although cream and sugar will certainly add flavor characteristics to your coffee, it will completely mask the flavors that naturally come out of the coffee bean. If sugar is necessary for you to enjoy a coffee, be sure that you're using the same ratio each time, but it is not recommended to add anything at all.
4. Important: Try coffees against each other
More than what a coffee tastes like on it's own, flavor notes are more easily detected when compared to other coffees. The best way to pull flavor notes from coffee are by using immersion brewing methods. Immersion methods require coffee grounds to be fully immersed in water for all or most of brew time, then filtered.
There are complicated guides to cupping with specific equipment for immersion brewing, but the easiest way is to use a French Press. When comparing two or more coffees, be sure that:
- The same coffee to water ratio and water tempurature is used for all varieties
- The immersion time is consistent (around four minutes)
- The coffee is tasted consecutively and at a similar tempurature
5. Keep notes of what you taste
Even if the flavor notes begin as simple as "fruity", jot down your thoughts and you will soon be able to move into more specific flavors and notes. Record the country of origin, what it smells like, and your best descriptor--whatever pops into your head.
What flavor notes do you taste in Death Wish Coffee? Leave your thoughts in the comments.