9. How to taste coffee
Updated: Jul 7
After understanding more about our senses, the importance of sensorial language, and how cross-modal correspondences work, let’s taste a cup of coffee together:
Step 1: Prepare a cup of black coffee.
Step 2: Prepare a pen and paper to write down the sensory data you perceive.
Step 3: SMELL
Action: Smell the coffee aroma.
Analyse: Focus on the cross-modal correspondence descriptions.
Step 4: SIP
Action: Have a sip of coffee from the cup.
Analyse: Which basic tastes have you perceived? What was the intensity of those tastes? Focus on the cross-modal correspondence that I mentioned in the last chapter: Colour, texture, shape of the acidity and the entire journey (from the beginning to the end) of this cup of coffee...etc.
Step 5: SLURP
Action: Grab a soup spoon and scoop a small amount of coffee on the spoon. Slurp the coffee from the spoon, just like your mama asked you not to when you were drinking soup as a kid. (Check the video below.) You can swirl the coffee in your mouth or even chew it. Don’t be afraid to create loud noises when slurping. It creates aeration that enhances our ability to taste more subtle aspects in the coffee. It is actually how coffee professionals taste coffee in their jobs.
Analyse: Focus on the coffee attributes that I mentioned in Chapter 6. Use the cross-modal correspondences that I mentioned from chapter 7 to analyse the attributes.
As you may notice, this chapter consolidates everything I mentioned in the previous chapters. By doing the above practice, step by step, it will help us to improve our sensory skill. It is always a good idea to invite colleagues to practice and calibrate together. Through calibration, we share more common sensory vocabulary which can increase the effectiveness of our communication.
I suggest to pay more attention and analyse the cup while tasting, and prepare two or more similar products to compare, if possible. In the beginning, you don’t really need to try to find all the flavours. Instead, identify one specific attribute at a time and then compare. For example, if there are 5 coffees on the table, try to compare the weight of the body or the intensity or shape of the acidity. One step at a time. By doing this, you won’t feel overwhelmed with the coffees.