How do I develop a coffee palate?

Jason, a recent student wrote in:

Thanks for the lesson on Saturday, it was a really enjoyable experience. I wanted to know what’s the best way of developing a palate for coffee? Remembering from Saturday my taste was off in regards to the espressos we poured.

Well, Jason. Thanks for writing in. It’s certainly difficult as a beginner to know whether or not you’re on the right track. Guidance through the complex world that is coffee is almost essential.

I’d start with drinking more black coffee. Espresso, filter, how ever you can get it.

Start thinking about balance of the beverage. What’s the acidity level, sweetness level and bitterness level? Start delving further into the coffee, is it citrus, floral, berry? Are there aspects you don’t like about the coffee? Why? The SCA Coffee Taster’s Flavour Wheel is a great resource. 

Finally, attend free public cuppings. Proud Mary Coffee hosts one every week on Tuesday in the evening at Aunty Pegs. Lots of coffee companies host public cuppings to help educate consumers.

Cupping is a really easy thing to do at home. Check out this video by VCR on how to do it. Don’t limit yourself here.

Maybe try a cupping of processing methods; if you can get your hands on the same coffee processed different ways, this will allow you to understand how processing method influences the coffee’s flavour.

Remember, the more coffee you drink/taste, the bigger library you will have to reference from in the future. Good luck. 

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