When roasted, coffee beans have over 800 flavor characteristics. Red wine is said to have a mere 400, so exploring the world of coffee can be a great adventure.
Finding coffee that you really love is truly a matter of personal taste. The best way to determine your preferences is to compare and contrast different coffees from different regions, noting aroma, body, acidity and flavor notes such as floral, citrus, spice and caramel and writing down what you like about each one.
I recommend that my customers do a coffee tasting using a coffee from Kenya, one from Colombia and one from Indonesia. Kenyan coffee has high acidity and notes of black currants. Colombian coffee tends to have high acidity and is very well balanced. The coffee from Indonesia tends to have high body and low acidity; it's smooth and I find that people either love it or hate it.
There are exotic single varietal coffees that are incredibly diverse in flavor and are worth trying, such as Jamaican Blue Mountain, Hawaiian Kona and one of my favorites, Costa Rican Peaberry.
When choosing fine coffee, start by looking for 100% Arabica beans, the world's best Arabica beans are aromatic and offer varied and complex flavor profiles. They contain about half the caffeine content of Robusta coffee.
The most important thing about coffee is taking the time to enjoy it and trying not to drink on the go – at least not too often! I make coffee drinking an occasion, so I drink it out of a teacup. The round, smooth shape of the cup enhances my discovery. To me that's the magic of great coffee. Best of all, unlike fine wine, which you probably only enjoy occasionally, great coffee is something you can wake up to every day.
You might be tempted to choose beans based on roast color: dark, medium or light. Fine coffee purveyors roast beans to bring out their optimal flavor characteristics. Just because beans are dark roast, doesn't mean that the coffee will be burnt or bitter, conversely, a light roast isn't 'weak.' Different flavor notes and intensities emerge from careful roasting.
Check out this groovy video that shows how to make a fantastic cup of coffee from start to finish. The finished product is so gorgeous, this video should probably be classified as erotica for coffee heads!
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