It’s heart warming and amazing how much confidence people have in our insight in their taste. Frequently we get people that would like to order some coffee from us, but don’t really know what kind of coffee to order. A possibility would of course be to just order small amounts of several coffees (a trial package or so) and just see what one likes, but regularly they just tell us “to send us whatever we think they like”. Wow! So they actually think we know them good enough to know what they like?
Let’s start with some basic decision-making aspects here:
- How do you prepare your coffee?
- How do you drink your coffee?
- What do you generally like in the taste of coffee?
How do you prepare your coffee? As espresso, as filter coffee, as french press, with a mocca ?? That makes quite a difference…we know coffees that taste great as filter coffee but have no body whatsoever as espresso, for instance. Body? Coffee? Ok, this may need some additional explanation. Well, in short, the body is like the mouth-filling experience that you get from a sip of coffee. A sip of water has no body: you take it in your mouth but apart from making your mouth wet there is no further sensation, so you swallow it. A good body really fills your mouth so that you taste flavour everywhere, and also the flavour stays as long as you have the coffee in your mouth. So we do know (and actually sell) coffee that as espresso has the sip-of-water effect, though it makes a great filter coffee. Therefore it’s important to know how one makes the coffee before advising.
How do you drink your coffee? Just black, black with a bit of sugar, a lot of sugar? Or with milk? When I say “sugar” people immediately think about “sweet”. Now, I won’t deny that sugar is sweet, but sugar is also a taste enhancer. A small amount of sugar actually brings forward a lot of acidity in coffee that one wouldn’t taste without the sugar. Of course I’m talking about a small amount of sugar, let’s say the amount that fits on the tip of a stirring stick for an espresso. If one uses more sugar the sweet taste will overpower the taste enhancing effect and your coffee will just be sweet. So if somebody drinks coffee pure black it’s better to have a coffee that is not too bitter and has some acidity, but someone that always puts a small amount of sugar in the coffee can have a more bitter coffee as the sugar will bring forward the acidity anyway. And somebody that uses a lot of sugar …. well, they just like sweet. The same counts for milk, more or less. Milk also enhances acidity, but at the same time also dilutes the coffee. So for coffee with milk it’s better to use a more bitter coffee with a strong body.
What do you generally like in the taste of coffee? Some people like bitter, some people like acid. Very important to take into account. We once had a coffee from Java (Indonesia) that was considered very high quality, but also very acid. It almost felt like drinking warm apple cider. So quality or not, it’s just not my taste and I would personally not buy it to drink at home. But I’m not into just-super-bitter coffee either, though I know people that are.
And then there are numerous other factors that we can’t even control: the temperature of the water you use (hotter water tends to give more bitter coffee) and how fine you grind your coffee are just two of them.
How do we know? Well, we just try by making coffee in different ways. We have an espresso machine, a filter coffee machine, a french press, a vacuum brewer and even a cezve or ibrik for making turkish coffee – with a real artisanal hand grinder to make the very fine turkish grind. And we just try…how it tasts.We’re still missing some things though; we don’t have a mocca right now and are also missing a chemex. But who knows, some day…
So every time we’re being flattered with the confidence people have in our skills to pick them a coffee, a question-and-answer sessions starts based on what’s mentioned above. And usually we can work it out and send a coffee that they like. And that then probably adds to our good name that we are so good in sending exactly the coffee they like.
But now you know: we’re not telepathic, we just tried!