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Another New Guy

Gerry_C

New member
May 23, 2022
3
0
San Diego, California
Hi all, Gerry C here. I'm looking for some helpful direction in the world of coffee.

About me so far... started drinking coffee at 19 (in the Navy.) Up till then it was always tea (I was born in Scotland but raised in the midwest.)
The only "coffee tasting" ability I have is "I like it, I hate it, or I can live with it." I could not describe what I like if my life depended on it.
I keep reading about "flavor notes" and acidity but I actually have no real idea what those are. I put McDonalds and Burger King coffee in the "I can live with it" catagory.

I recently bought a Fellow Ode grinder and scale and it seems to be helping me get better coffee at home, but I want to see if it can get better.
I am using a drip machine and want to stick to that type of machine at least for now. I'm grinding just before brewing.
Generally, I'm using San Franciso Bay "Fog Chaser" whole beans. 50gr to 28oz of heavily filtered water. I seem to like a strong taste to my coffee (Navy ???)
I do know I don't like bitter. I drink it Black, no sugar if that matters. I have never been a fan of "Flavored" coffee's.

I know I need to learn to "Taste" coffee and be able to describe what I like and what I don't if I expect anyone to be able to steer me towards better beans.
So question one is... is there anything on the net that can help me begin that process? I know I will have to go to some kind of tasting,
but I would like to understand what the terms mean before doing that. For example, a "hint of chocolate" means nothing to me. I love chocolate but have NEVER had
any non-flavored coffee that tastes like chocolate to me.

Also, if anyone knows some good roasters in the San Diego, CA area, that would be helpful. Most of the "Coffee shops" just want to sell you a drink and move on.
I would like to find a roaster that is willing to help me understand the various beans and help me learn (a lot to ask, I know.)

Any other suggestions for a "newbie" as to beginning the process would be appreciated.

I do know teaching me is going to be difficult do to a lack of reference frame, so thank you in advance to anyone who makes the attempt.
 

topher

Super Moderator
Staff member
Aug 14, 2003
3,804
29
Boca Raton
Good luck bud! I had to teach myself how to taste coffee. I got into the business in 89 and we didn't have the internet to point is in any direction. That being said. I read the description of each coffee and tasted the coffee and tried to find what was in the description. After a while you don't need the description...you will just start to understand. When I first started I was reading descriptions like earthy and nuances of this and that. I didn't understand until I got sick of flavored coffee. Yes that is how I got my start. I could understand irish cream and hazelnut. Then after about 6 months I switched to regular and realized that every coffee has something to offer! 33 years later and I still get excited about trying new lots!! Take notes on everything you taste. It will help you in the long run. You can also look into a sensory kit.
hope this helps! By the way where in Scotland are you ? I wish I could open a place in the UK. They are exploding in the specialty coffee game!! Loads of coffee shops and roasters springing up!!
 

addertooth

Member
May 30, 2022
33
2
Arizona
From another "newbie", I about a half-step ahead of you. I have been a serious coffee drinker for years.
When I just want caffein, and nothing else, my standards are poor. But when I wanted a good coffee, I would get some whole bean coffee from a roaster I trusted; not all roasters are created equal.

Now the sad news. Virtually all coffees you find in regular grocery stores have a handicap. Large companies have a greater interest in making "a consistent product", rather than making the best product. They realize a lot of beans could produce an interesting coffee with unique flavors. But they either avoid those beans, or "bake" those flavors out via their roasting process (or they blend it with something which masks the distinct character). They do this so the coffee tastes exactly the same from bag to bag. It comes as no surprise that you are unfamiliar with some of the more nuanced flavors and aromas. Most of what is commercially available is devoid of them.

You ARE on the right track by trying to find a roaster. Walk in with a game plan. Tell them "I am looking for a coffee which has a strong chocolate flavor", "I am looking for a coffee with berry flavor", "I am looking for a High Acid Coffee", "I am looking for a very low acid coffee". Take them home, brew them, drink them side-by-side. Compare them, take notes. You may notice that some of those characteristics are easier to detect once the coffee has cooled down.

As I said initially, I am about a half-step ahead of you, and have recently taken up roasting coffee. I have already educated my sense of taste and smell, and now know what I enjoy in coffee. The next target is to roast the coffee I want. I am only four roasts into this project, but things are looking good.
 
OP
G

Gerry_C

New member
May 23, 2022
3
0
San Diego, California
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #4
Good luck bud! I had to teach myself how to taste coffee. I got into the business in 89 and we didn't have the internet to point is in any direction. That being said. I read the description of each coffee and tasted the coffee and tried to find what was in the description. After a while you don't need the description...you will just start to understand. When I first started I was reading descriptions like earthy and nuances of this and that. I didn't understand until I got sick of flavored coffee. Yes that is how I got my start. I could understand irish cream and hazelnut. Then after about 6 months I switched to regular and realized that every coffee has something to offer! 33 years later and I still get excited about trying new lots!! Take notes on everything you taste. It will help you in the long run. You can also look into a sensory kit.
hope this helps! By the way where in Scotland are you ? I wish I could open a place in the UK. They are exploding in the specialty coffee game!! Loads of coffee shops and roasters springing up!!
Sorry, maybe not clear. Im not IN Scotland, just born there. I'm in California, "where the fruits and nuts come out of the trees and eat you!" Thank you for the information and I will order the sensory kit, have to start somewhere. The UK is a strange market, since so many pubs and the like serve instant coffee.
 
OP
G

Gerry_C

New member
May 23, 2022
3
0
San Diego, California
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #5
From another "newbie", I about a half-step ahead of you. I have been a serious coffee drinker for years.
When I just want caffein, and nothing else, my standards are poor. But when I wanted a good coffee, I would get some whole bean coffee from a roaster I trusted; not all roasters are created equal.

Now the sad news. Virtually all coffees you find in regular grocery stores have a handicap. Large companies have a greater interest in making "a consistent product", rather than making the best product. They realize a lot of beans could produce an interesting coffee with unique flavors. But they either avoid those beans, or "bake" those flavors out via their roasting process (or they blend it with something which masks the distinct character). They do this so the coffee tastes exactly the same from bag to bag. It comes as no surprise that you are unfamiliar with some of the more nuanced flavors and aromas. Most of what is commercially available is devoid of them.

You ARE on the right track by trying to find a roaster. Walk in with a game plan. Tell them "I am looking for a coffee which has a strong chocolate flavor", "I am looking for a coffee with berry flavor", "I am looking for a High Acid Coffee", "I am looking for a very low acid coffee". Take them home, brew them, drink them side-by-side. Compare them, take notes. You may notice that some of those characteristics are easier to detect once the coffee has cooled down.

As I said initially, I am about a half-step ahead of you, and have recently taken up roasting coffee. I have already educated my sense of taste and smell, and now know what I enjoy in coffee. The next target is to roast the coffee I want. I am only four roasts into this project, but things are looking good.
Thank you for the information. My beginning problem is I have no idea how to describe flavor, or probably even detect them at this stage. I'm still trying to figure out if im a "Dark roast or Medium guy."
 

addertooth

Member
May 30, 2022
33
2
Arizona
You are more than welcome. I find that newbies tend to have pretty clear memories of the initial challenges they faced. They often came up with solutions.

Yep, that is why I suggested you ask for coffees which should express a specific flavor. This gives you a chance to calibrate your nose and taste. As a side note, if you have had covid in the past month, those sense may be greatly diminished. If so, give it a couple months to fully recover those senses.
 
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