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Tasting Notes for Coffee

 

We love coffee. A lot.

One of the best parts about working at Zocalo Coffee, is we get to taste coffee every day. At the cafes our baristas dial in the espresso and sip for quality at each morning before open. Over at the Roastery, our roasting team cups each batch they produce.

Regularly tasting each roast is important to maintain consistency between roast batches, develop recipes & profiles, and grow our technical knowledge.


This evaluation, called cupping, is crucial to ensuring that each cup of Zocalo Coffee tastes exceptional. We train our senses of taste and smell to distinguish details in our cups. We analyze each cup for aroma, body or mouth feel, acidity. We pick out flavor notes or descriptors that help us discern how sweet a coffee is, if it is balanced, and how complimentary the finish is. With lots of practice, we are able to create and improve the coffees we love to share with you.

Want to try your hand at tasting coffee at home? Follow along as we go over some of the sensory experiences we use to develop our own coffee palate. You won’t need any special equipment to try this at home, all you need is a cup of coffee.

Brewing your own at home?
Here are some guidelines to brew a great cup of coffee:

Now that we have the perfect brew,
let’s start tasting!

To get the most out of this exercise, we recommend tasting your coffee as is, without cream or sugar.

Take a sip of coffee and let it rest against the tongue before swallowing. You can even slurp the coffee into your mouth. (It sounds weird, we know!) Slurping using a round spoon (like a soup spoon) will aerate the coffee and helps to coat all of the taste buds in your mouth. This will give you a better tasting experience. 

 As the coffee rests on your tongue, ask yourself the following questions:

    • Do you think it is sweet?
    • Do you think it is acidic?
    • Does the coffee have a texture or weight or is it thin and watery?
    • Does it feel like the coffee coats your mouth?
    • How does the finish taste?
    • Do you like it or dislike it? What characteristics about it make you feel that way?
    • Are there any flavors you recognize?

    It helps to write down your notes too. We follow a cupping form but something informal like this works too! Just something to organize and group your thoughts to help guide you through what you taste.

     Need a little help pinpointing what exactly "acidity" tastes like? What does "body" or "mouth feel" really mean? The links below will go into more detail on how to taste for these characteristics, Click around to learn more!

    Aroma Acidity Mouth Feel Flavor Notes

     

    Before you start off, remember these key points we find helpful:

     
    We hope this will help shine light on how coffee flavor notes and tasting descriptors end up on our menu. We also hope this helps you experience food and drink in a different way. The way you taste chocolate, wine, and many foods will become more vibrant and bold. Most of all, we hope you have fun!