Coffee Tasting & Flavor Notes

As I threatened in my last post, I’ve done some more coffee pseudo-science. Using the cupping technique I learned by watching James Hoffmann, I tasted four different coffees. I must mention that the poor technique is mine and mine alone. Mr. Hoffmann would probably cringe if he knew I was connecting his well executed coffee science with my random sloshing about. If you’re interested at all in coffee, coffee science, or the coffee industry, you should check out his YouTube channel.

My intent with this tasting was to see if I could replicate the eye-opening experience I had during the World’s Largest Coffee Tasting. I did.

I also wanted to try my hand at documenting flavor notes in a way my brain can process. It’s not even close to the professional method, but I had fun. Here are the results.

Tasting Notes

Cacophony Coffee – Brazil

Drinking this coffee was like watching 1962 footage a PelĂ© scoring a goal. As the clip rolls you say, “Oh, how quaint.” and then the film spools out you’re knocked into speechlessness with the subtlety. You have to keep rewinding because you can’t understand how he made the ball do that.

Cacophony Coffee – Sumatra

This coffee was like walking past the community garden and noticing the free spirit that’s always working there. They smell spicy and a little funky and you’re not sure you want to catch their eye at first. Your conservative neighbor always mutters under his breath about the disgusting smell which makes you think that this tie-dyed, barefooted iconoclast is someone you’d like to know . You don’t regret your decision. They whip out some homemade kombucha and brownies and you settle in for a good chat.

Roasterie – City of Fountains Blend

This coffee is like finding an old Stephen King book. You read the back cover and are intrigued by the mysterious body and promise of sweet characters so you start reading. By the time you finish, all hope has been erased by the murky ending. You crinkle your nose. You know you liked parts of the story but are still left mildly disturbed.

Dunkin Donuts – Original

This coffee was like having an elderly relative come over for a visit. The conversation surprises you at first with its light sweetness. You can’t remember why you don’t see each other more often. You ask a question. They start to answer but the words trail off and you’re not sure if they’re deliberating or have fallen asleep. Oh, now you remember why you don’t call more often. You tell yourself that seeing them once a year is plenty.

A few quick notes on the coffee and the method.

This was not fair or scientific. It wasn’t blind. I knew exactly what I was drinking each and every sip.

It also wasn’t fair because the City of Fountain’s blend was a Costco purchase originally roasted almost three months before I brewed it. The Dunkin Donuts blend is a big-ole bucket of grounds whose roast date is know only to the gods. It’s not fair to compare these to fresh beans from Cacophony Coffee that were roasted a few days before the test. That being said, I thought the Dunkin Donuts was good for comparison since it’s a coffee that most people have had or can easily get. The Roasterie blend was in my cupboard and I’ve enjoyed it in the past so I included it to see how it would fare. Even though it wasn’t impartial, I did try and be open-minded and I hope it comes across that way.

I’m still not sure how to write about single-origin coffee provenience. The label for the Brazil reads, Brazil Olhos D’Agua Vargem Grande e Pinheiros Red Catuai Natural.

Based on some quick searching, I think this parses to:

  • Country – Brazil
  • Region – Olhos D’Agua
  • Farm (or maybe processing center?) – Vargem Grande e Pinheiros
  • Coffee Variety – Red Catuai
  • Processing Type – Natural

The Sumatra reads, Sumatra Kerinci Highlands, Honey processed.

I used 12 grams of coffee to 200 grams of water for the cupping. Except for the Dunkin Donuts, all was ground medium-fine with a Hario Mini Mill.

I’ll leave it there for now before I embarrass myself by trying to discuss roasting and processing. I’m nearly out of the Sumatra and I just drank the last of the Brazil so I need to make my next Cacophony order. More later.

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