Breaking down coffee based on roasts, processing, freshness, varietals, and source
What can you tell about your coffee by its taste, look, and smell?
This is a great basic, yet comprehensive video by Epicurious with Dillon Edwards of Parlor Coffee. Via a blind taste test set up, Dillon breaks down coffee processing, roasts, freshness, varietals, source; and why some coffees are more expensive than others.
We decided to do a quick break down of his first challenge where Edwards was presented a dark roast and a light roast to see which was more expensive. The type of roasts help Edwards easily predict what the coffee might taste and feel like. Edwards first began by visually inspecting the coffee. The drastic difference in colour helped him identify that Coffee A was a dark roast, and that Coffee B was a light roast. Coffee A was also much more glossy, and B had the silver skin still attached.
This visual information created an expectation of what flavours he was going to taste and feel. Dark Roasted coffee masks a lot of the flavours in the coffee and covers up a lot of the sweetness with a slight smoky flavour. In contrast, light roasted coffee brings out more of the nuances, good attributes, and flaws of the beans. From just this previous information, he made the conclusion that Coffee B would most likely be a higher quality because the roast would not be able to hide the quality or flavour of the beans.
When it was time to taste the coffee, Edwards made a slurping sound. This action helps aspirate his pallet and incorporate air into his tasting. Doing this activates the olfactory sense to help open our sensory ability and leads to increased experience in taste. He also let the coffee cool down before taking a sip, as heat can mask the flavor of a cup.
When describing the coffee flavors, he described B as having a molasses feel in the mouth with a bitter sweet and muted acidity. Coffee A was sweet like fruit juice with tasting notes of nectarine.
In conclusion, something as simple as roast levels can make a huge difference in your cup. Varieties, processing, freshness, and source of the beans will also have identifiable differences. If you want to practice maturing your tastes and knowledge to understand this, we recommend finding coffee flights near you! Coffee flights come with multiple cups of coffee with differences in roast, variety, etc. To help you understand how this can drastically change the flavour of your cup.
Make sure to watch the rest of the video and hear what Dillon Edwards had to say about the other challenges!
Saw something you liked in the video? Check out all the products Edwards used!
Written by Dina Ibrahim and Courtney Rusk