Aroma Lab

So I have gone through how to taste coffee. In case you missed it I will review the steps at the end. Now let’s talk about developing your coffee nose. What does my nose have to do with how my coffee tastes? Well nearly everything we taste is really the result of the associated smell. Remember we only taste bitter, sweet, salty, and sour. As we develop our knowledge around different coffees, a quick reference guide is to pair them with food and or smells to help bring out the flavors layered within your cup. There are 9 basic smells we work with at Starbucks. You can create your own aroma with these scents using little herb jars and scented oils. Scent #1 is berry. To me when I think of berry in terms of coffee I instantly think blackberries squished. One of my favorite coffees representing berries is Kenya. Scent #2: caramel. Not the overly sugary processed kind but the homemade burnt sugar, creme brulee kind. When I inhale a shot of espresso this is what I think of. Sweet, dark and sinful. Scent #3: Citrus. For me there really are 2 main citrus scents and flavors I get when tasting coffees, lemon and grapefruit. Sometimes I will add orange wedges to iced coffee but when sipping or tasting a coffee with citrus notes I more often than not smell lemon and grapefruit. It isn’t always the juicy smell either, I have tasted coffees where I felt they were like the essence or oil of the citrus, such as the peel of a grapefruit. That to me is a little more bitter than sour. Scent 4: Cocoa. When I talk about an aroma of cocoa I am talking about the smell when you open a canister of cocoa powder. Semisweet and dry. Like a whiff of chocolate. I am totally getting hungry writing this! Scent #5: Earthy. Okay I get flack at work for this all.the.time, earthy does not always equal dirt! Sometimes earthy can be fresh cut grass, leaves or mushrooms. Earthy can be fresh turned soil. When I hear baristas refer to earthy and dirt as one in the same I instantly press some Sumatra and have a convo about mushrooms and the herbally tones of the coffee. Scent #6: floral. This was a hard one for me. When I think floral I think in your face, over the top gardenias and fragrant roses. But I learned more often than not, that floral in terms of coffee is often those subtle scent of almond blossoms and baby’s breath. It is a little more muted then the memory imprinted in my brain. Scent #7: Nutty. This was an easy one for me and one of the first scents that made sense to me when I first began tasting coffee. I find Latin American coffees are the best for drawing out the nutty aroma in coffee. When I say/use the term nutty I am talking about the smell of roasting nuts. Like walnuts, hazelnuts and pine nuts. Scent #8: Smoky. This is of course another one of those where I have to remind people that while yes, it can mean it has the ashy scent of an overfull ashtray, but not always. When I think of smoky I think of campfires at the beach. Bundled up hanging out with family chatting away. It is far more woodsy then nicotine. The last scent, scent #9, is spicy. This is a very broad term because spicy can be peppery, cinnamony, herbally, etc. When I hear spicy I think Aged Sumatra. That clovely, nutmeggy scent that brings to mind fall and the holidays. The smell of fireplaces and cider.

So grab some stuff from the pantry and when you are sipping your cup of joe tomorrow morning take your time to inhale and smell what you are tasting. You may be surprised at how much more you are tasting after doing so.

The 5 steps to tasting:
1. Smell
2. Slurp
3. Taste and locate on tongue
4. Create description of what you smell and taste.
5. Repeat


About thecoffeeqween

I am a 30 something year old mom, wife, and lover of all things coffee and tea. I have two kick ass boys, a hubs who looks like Collin Ferrell, and a killer job as a store manager for Starbucks. Follow me as I juggle it all downing espresso, raising boys and learning to be happy with what I got!
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