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  1. #1
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    Identifying flavors

    I know there are a lot of people on here who know a lot about coffee. Drinking it has become a hobby of mine and in the attempt to learn all that I can, I figure I should begin with learning the proper terminology. I am familiar with the flavor wheel, but I still struggle with describing what it is exactly that I am tasting. At least I think I do.

    Does anybody have any tips on how to improve my discernment or where to begin?

  2. #2
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    Form a group of people who want to learn, or at least one other person, cup/drink 3-4 coffees per session and have fun. Create an open atmosphere where there are wrong ideas, and let everyone blurt out what they're tasting. Get coffees from a good roaster, or greens from a good source, and use their flavor descriptions to see if you can find what they've reported is in the coffee.

    When I started roasting 11 years ago, I found another brand new local roaster who had experience with wine tasting - his palate was better than mine. We would buy green coffee from sweetmarias.com and see if could locate and describe the flavors in Tom's cupping notes. We would do several coffees every week. That grew to a group of 5-6 people, and we just had fun growing and developing our palates, and moved onto our own samples from importers deciding which coffees to buy full bags of green coffee to split.

    Having at least one other person join you, and creating that open/free environment is the best advice I can give you.

  3. #3
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    Le Nez Du Cafe is what you need. This is what I believe you are looking for.https://www.espressoparts.com/le-nez...-special-order

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by peterjschmidt View Post
    Form a group of people who want to learn, or at least one other person, cup/drink 3-4 coffees per session and have fun. Create an open atmosphere where there are wrong ideas, and let everyone blurt out what they're tasting. Get coffees from a good roaster, or greens from a good source, and use their flavor descriptions to see if you can find what they've reported is in the coffee.

    When I started roasting 11 years ago, I found another brand new local roaster who had experience with wine tasting - his palate was better than mine. We would buy green coffee from sweetmarias.com and see if could locate and describe the flavors in Tom's cupping notes. We would do several coffees every week. That grew to a group of 5-6 people, and we just had fun growing and developing our palates, and moved onto our own samples from importers deciding which coffees to buy full bags of green coffee to split.

    Having at least one other person join you, and creating that open/free environment is the best advice I can give you.
    Thanks for the suggestion. That sounds like a great way to develop the discernment. What is the significance of green coffee beans?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by truegentlemen View Post
    Le Nez Du Cafe is what you need. This is what I believe you are looking for.https://www.espressoparts.com/le-nez...-special-order
    Thank you! The price tag is a bit hefty, but I appreciate the suggestion.

  6. #6
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    Those scents are the foundation of cupping language. An essential tool in the education you seek.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christianguy View Post
    Thank you! The price tag is a bit hefty, but I appreciate the suggestion.
    Maybe you could combine peterjschmidt's suggestion with truegentlemen's, and form a group where each member pays dues...then purchase things such as the Der Schnoz kit mentioned for the benefit of the group.

  8. #8
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    actually, you do not really need Le Nez Du Cafe to learn how to cup.
    of course, our company has one set that I bought from SCAA few years back.
    however, exception of some educational teaching purpose, we hardly never use them at all.

    if you are just starting to learn cupping, I do not think that you will pick up no more than 3 flavors at first.
    when you practice, you will buy a certain region coffee from certain country. they will have their own basic characteristics. As example, coffee from huehuetenango, Guatemala will have pronounced acidity, chocolate, sweet floral flavor. (you can get this general flavor info from basically anywhere, in internet or sweetmaria...etc)
    then, cup them as many times as possible and try to pick up the flavors and compare them against what you find from other experts.

    then, buy Antigua region coffee, compare with huehue. again, try to pick up distinctive Antigua flavors.

    then, buy Acatenango (well, Acatenango is very similar to Antigua, so ...), buy Coban which is very very different than any other coffee in Guatemala.

    I am sure that you get the picture.
    then, move on to other countries, such as Ethiopia, India, Indonesia...etc

    it just takes time and thousands of practice of cupping.

    I am a tennis coach. when I teach, i have kid hit same forehand hundreds of hundreds of times. TO BUILD MUSCLE MEMORY, they call it.
    Cupping is same way, you have to do it over and over again, so you will immediately know the taste by your memory.

    I am in the business, so I cup more often than a lot of our forum members, but I must say that I am still in beginning of stage, specially when I talk about other country coffees.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Peaberry View Post
    Maybe you could combine peterjschmidt's suggestion with truegentlemen's, and form a group where each member pays dues...then purchase things such as the Der Schnoz kit mentioned for the benefit of the group.
    Interesting solution. Perhaps I can begin to consider it when I get a group. Thanks.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ensoluna View Post
    actually, you do not really need Le Nez Du Cafe to learn how to cup.
    of course, our company has one set that I bought from SCAA few years back.
    however, exception of some educational teaching purpose, we hardly never use them at all.

    if you are just starting to learn cupping, I do not think that you will pick up no more than 3 flavors at first.
    when you practice, you will buy a certain region coffee from certain country. they will have their own basic characteristics. As example, coffee from huehuetenango, Guatemala will have pronounced acidity, chocolate, sweet floral flavor. (you can get this general flavor info from basically anywhere, in internet or sweetmaria...etc)
    then, cup them as many times as possible and try to pick up the flavors and compare them against what you find from other experts.

    then, buy Antigua region coffee, compare with huehue. again, try to pick up distinctive Antigua flavors.

    then, buy Acatenango (well, Acatenango is very similar to Antigua, so ...), buy Coban which is very very different than any other coffee in Guatemala.

    I am sure that you get the picture.
    then, move on to other countries, such as Ethiopia, India, Indonesia...etc

    it just takes time and thousands of practice of cupping.

    I am a tennis coach. when I teach, i have kid hit same forehand hundreds of hundreds of times. TO BUILD MUSCLE MEMORY, they call it.
    Cupping is same way, you have to do it over and over again, so you will immediately know the taste by your memory.

    I am in the business, so I cup more often than a lot of our forum members, but I must say that I am still in beginning of stage, specially when I talk about other country coffees.
    Wow. I will definitely check out those different coffees from the different regions. Thankfully, some coffee from huehuetenango, Guatemala is sold at a local coffee shop and, now that you mention it, I think I do taste some floral notes and definitely the acidity. Not sure about the chocolate yet.

    Cool take on the muscle memory. I'm a guitarist, so I definitely have a working knowledge of that. Glad to see the same applies to identifying the various flavors.

    Thanks for taking the time to write such an informative response.

 

 
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