Expert Tips: Unlocking the Tasting Notes in Your Coffee


We've heard all kinds of theories and interpretations about tasting notes across the coffee and think there need to be a bit of clarification on how we do it here at The Coffee Ride. Some folks think that the tasting notes are actual flavors added to the coffees to make them taste that way. We've also heard others get frustrated that they can't make their coffee at home taste exactly like the tasting notes on the coffee labels.
Let's debunk some of these right here and right now :) ...
While some coffee's on the grocery store shelves do have added oils to make them taste a certain way (think "IRISH CREAM + HAZELNUT"), we do not. We purchase extremely high end coffees that we're able to roast in certain ways to highlight particular "natural" regional flavors in the coffees. The beauty is that no added flavors are needed because our coffees have tons of unique terroir all on their own.
Here's where things start to get rather tricky:
If you're confused and unable to taste the exact notes on the label, don't stress. These tasting notes sometimes be rather subtle depending on the coffees. Tasting coffees in this way can take practice and often require training your palate. Some fun ways to do this are to pair your coffees tasting notes with the actual food associated. Try eating a little piece of dark chocolate or maybe have one of our famous colorado peaches with our new Tanzanian coffee. Doing this will help train your brain and help some of these subtleties become more dominant in your cup. Those tasting notes are mostly there to help you navigate which coffees you may tend to prefer in a long list of regions and processes. 
In addition, these tasting notes are also a range. We try and organize our tasting notes on our labels in a way that the most dominant flavor in the coffee will be first so you will get an idea of what to expect when you make your first cup. The difficult thing is that coffee is one, if not the most complex foods/beverages in the world because it's one of the only things that changes flavors as it cools. Not only that, but it changes flavors as it ages both pre and post roasting. Plus!!! Although we try to mitigate this as much as possible, each time that we roast coffee, there are environmental factors such as moisture and temperature that can also add to changing the flavors slightly. Oh, and we're not finished here either. Depending on what brewing method you are using (French press vs. Automatic brewer vs. Pour over), each of these will highlight different flavors as well. 
In the end, think of the tasting notes as more of guidelines or possibilities. An array of tasting notes that you might be experiencing in your cup once your coffee is brewed. Sometimes the fruit notes might be more dominant than the tea notes. Other times the milk chocolate may dominate over the citrus. In our opinions coffee should be fun. It's an adult beverage where you get to play, and either way, end up with a delicious caffeinated treat. While it's fun to always be in pursuit of perfection, don't forget to enjoy the journey along the way.
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