Let these coffee centric ideas percolate!
There are only so many years in a row that you can pull off getting the coffee lover in your life a mug and pound of ground coffee as you race over to meet them for the holidays. They’re catching on to you by now, I’m sure. So maybe it’s time to change it up a bit.
A favorite practice of many coffee lovers is to experiment with new and different ways to brew. It’s a constant crusade to discover the ideal brewing technique that will lead me to a perfect cup of coffee. But this crusade adds up and can turn out to cost quite a bit of money over time. And let’s face it; experimenting with a new system of brewing is an indulgence that most people can’t justify spending money on very often. This is where you, the gift giver, come in!
How about you give your coffee-holic friends and family a new way to experience and enjoy their java this year. Below are a few suggestions of coffee brewing gifts that will not disappoint, and can fit any budget.
Kalita Wave Set- $43.20
Chemex 6-Cup Coffeemaker Set- $60.95
Looking to spread even more cheer? Send your favorite coffee lovers a subscription to Match Made Coffee. Each month they will get to try new and noteworthy coffees from artisan roasteries around the world. Each roast will be paired with its soul-mate snack and sent right to their doorstep at the peak of freshness and taste. The holidays have never tasted so good!
Okay, so, you know fancy shmancy people taste wines and things like that and pull out all these "notes" while you're sitting there thinking, "ummm... this kind of tastes like... red?" Well, it's not that you're wrong or that your tongue is broken (though it might be), but that you were never trained in tasting. What we discuss in this article goes just as much for wine, as it does for coffee, craft beer, teas, or any other drink whose flavor you want to fully appreciate.
It sounds kind of silly, though. Training yourself to taste? You've been eating since you were a baby, and can taste things just fine, I'm sure. But, can you appreciate the flavors? Do you know what goes into enhancing those flavors, but by being able to do it without seeming like an overly-sophisticated snob?
Well, there are a couple things we want to address right off the bat:
a) Taste is subjective
You could have a tongue identical to someone else, the same training, and one person loves it and the other thinks it tastes like the inside of a shoe. That's fine. Some people love dark chocolate for instance, while others think it tastes like rancid sweat. Getting to know what you like, and being able to pull it out from other things, will help guide your tastes more than anything else.
b) Tastes literally change as you age
We don't mean like an old man shaking his fist at the youth and their odd style and horrible music tastes. We mean that taste buds get worse as you age. So does your nose and its ability to smell. Just like your sight and vision worsens as you age, so do these sensors. You may very well find something you liked in the past, and find that it just doesn't do it anymore. Or perhaps you try stronger or weaker flavored items to cope. It happens.
c) Some people just don't have certain receptors
We'll use vanilla as an example, though most people have it. The way smell works is that certain "vanilla shaped molecule" lands on a specific receptor capable of understanding that smell, and that sends a signal to your brain. That sounds straightforward enough, but not all people will have the receptor to appreciate that vanilla shaped molecule. And, those receptors may vary in quantity, also influencing the signal strength sent to your brain.
What exactly affects the taste of things?
1) Things in your mouth recently.
Have you had spicy food in the last hour or 2? Your taste buds needs recovery time from the capsaicin.
Have you brushed your teeth or used mouthwash, had something acidic, or anything like that? Ditto- chances are your taste buds are off, even if you use a palate cleanser.
Are you a smoker? Not only does that kill your taste buds, but it leaves a lingering flavor and smell.
If you've got something plain to taste before eating, or between different flavors, use that. A dry, unsalted cracker is easy and cheap, but if you're in a pinch you can drink water, or expect the first bite of whatever you try to be a throw away and to not really be able to appreciate until your next bite.
2) Using your nose 2 ways
What hits your tongue and what hits your nose combine to make what your brain perceives as a taste or flavor, most people know that. And, sure, aroma is a big part of it, but aroma actually comes at you in two ways: when the aromas hit your nostrils, and when aromas float back up and hit your smell receptors from the back. When you think of "after tastes" it's affected partially by the flavors that are stronger and linger on the tongue, but it is also influenced by the smell molecules that come back up and hit your nasal passage on the way down.
3) Prepping your tongue
You cannot taste things if your body isn't ready for it. You need saliva, for instance, to taste anything; it's literally a requirement for getting taste buds to recognize anything. With that in mind, you should be sure to have some spit in your mouth, even if you're drinking. The easiest way to do this is to lightly chew what you're having until you have a little bit built up- yes, this even goes for drinks like coffee and wine. Not only does the chewing motion get your saliva glands going automatically, but it forces your tongue to swish the foods and drinks around, thus hitting all the different receptors on your tongue and around your mouth.
4) Dealing with complexity
Lets go back to our "vanilla shaped molecule" example. If a particular food or liquid has a vanilla shaped molecule that lands and sends a signal to your brain, it will not be interpreted by the brain the same way if it's by itself or in a group. This is why when people say there are chocolate notes in a coffee or a drink, if it's not overwhelming, you may be tempted to call BS. Your brain is just sending some whacky new signal to your brain, and if there are too many unknowns, then you won't be able to figure out what is in it. It's like if you had a pizza and you're familiar with all the ingredients, you can taste the sauce, the crust, the cheese, the pepperonis. But, if somebody blindfolded you and threw on a whole bunch of stuff you've never had on a pizza, you might have trouble. You'd probably slow down, try out the textures, and try to pick out the notes you know first, and work out individual unknown flavors, until eventually you got it. This is the ideal approach to trying new foods or drinks.
5) Pairing it with its flavors
If you haven't trained yourself to tell various flavors in a drink from one another, then it'll be exceedingly difficult to know what you're drinking. Pairing it with a proper food or snack brings out the best in the drink, while also training you to appreciate notes better. So, if a coffee is supposed to have a dark chocolate flavor, then eat a couple bites of dark chocolate with it, focusing on the similarities, and switch back and forth. If you like, you can have multiple foods that match the multiple notes, but that generally turns it into less fun and more work.
So, now that you know what's going on, what's the easiest way to learn to appreciate what you eat?
-Inhale the aroma through your nose, trying to discern the smells
-Slurp it so that you can get both aromas at the same time, and taste tiny portions rather than overwhelming your tongue
-Chew it- yes, chew your drink to get that saliva going to activate your tastebuds more
-When swallowing, appreciate the smaller and smaller details you can pick out.
-Taste the after taste
-Repeat at least once, to be able to discern flavors, and just in case your tongue wasn't ready or had some remaining particles on it that would change the flavor experience.
And, if you have a match made food to go with it, follow the same rough process at least twice: once to appreciate the overlapping notes heavy on the drink side, and once to appreciate the overlapping notes heavy on the food side.
And, that's it really. You just need to take your time and be present and appreciate the flavors and smells and the mixtures they create together. Start to build your flavor palate, and figure out what finer detail flavors you like best, because it will be slightly different than anyone else.
Most importantly, remember: Taste to be in the moment, don't simply taste as a biproduct of scarfing down a meal, or taste as a biproduct to consume caffeine. Your life and experience will be happier and your mind less cluttered if you do it correctly, we guarantee it.
After a recent trip to Japan I came across a coffee brewing technique that has set itself up to take over the cold brew fad.
We have all become aware of cold brew this year-- the exhaustive 18-24 hour process that requires the perfect grind size and a straining process to ensure you wont have crunchy coffee the next day. It also uses a lot of coffee beans. Well, I am excited to let you know that there is a new and (scientifically proven) tastier way to enjoy an icy cup of coffee.
A lot of coffee connoisseurs were never huge fans of the cold brew technique. When you skip the heat in the brewing process you will never experience the full flavor and aroma that the coffee has to offer. The good thing with this is if you are used to diluting your coffee with cream and sugar to tone down the taste—you may not need to anymore with a cup of cold brew coffee!
Now if you enjoy the taste of coffee and want to catch each flavor note in your cooled cup of coffee, let me suggest the simple Japanese technique of flash brew. The flash brew technique involves brewing your cup of coffee at its normal high temp to release the natural flavors and aromatics, but will have your drip brew setup to land immediately in ice.
By immediately exposing your heat-brewed coffee to ice you will avoid the chemical process of oxidation that takes place when you order a typical iced coffee from the restaurant or coffee shop that left their coffee pot sitting on a warmer for who knows how long. Oxygen is coffee’s enemy, the less oxygen you can subject your coffee to the more flavor you will get. And by keeping the brewing temperature between the ideal 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit, your coffee will experience the optimal level of solubility (for full flavor) and volatility (for full smell).
The flash brew technique got its start in Japan, but is quickly becoming popularized across the globe for its simplicity and full flavor. Try it today using these simple steps:
1) Get out your favorite pour-over brew system
2) Add 200 grams of ice (the larger, the better) to your decanter or mug
3) Setup filter and add 60 grams of medium ground coffee
4) Pour 500 grams of 200°F water slowly to the coffee grounds, making sure to saturate them completely
You mean coffee has flavors? Doesn't it just taste like brown and energy? Well, if you're just used to having Folgers or a caffeinated milkshake (ie anything from Starbucks that has so many extras poured into it that it barely resembles coffee afterward), then this might surprise you. In fact, the Specialty Coffee Association of America- yes, that's a real thing- released a flavor wheel that surprised many.
Much like how wine has its own flavor notes and different ways of being brought about, so does coffee. Take a look at this flavor chart provided by the Daily Coffee News.
No longer are you just relegated to describing a coffee as light, medium, or dark roasted. What kind of dark roast? Are there any floral or fruity notes? How does that compare to the aroma? You can now enjoy all of these subtle hints of awesome intricacy.
You can tell just by looking at the flavor wheel, that it is clearly still in its infant stages, though. Most of the flavors you have probably seen around, if nothing else for marketing purposes. The biggest surprises I saw were the sour coffee flavors, as well as the depth of the green/vegetative coffee categories. Also, I giggled a bit when I saw that "chemical" category of tastes. I can only imagine that was a small coffee shop trying to label and take a jab at Starbucks or Peet's and imply that they're garbage compared to their stuff.
Coffee is one of those things that many people grew up just thinking of it as a necessary evil (much like choosing between Clinton or Trump this last election) to be able to stay awake and perky while at work. That's kind of what led to coffee creamers and flavored coffee syrups, and everything else being added. For the longest time there weren't many coffee roasters. It wasn't until Starbucks came around that trying new coffees even became a thing. Starbucks is also why so many more people drink coffee on a daily or almost daily basis these days. Now, not only is it a daily habit for many, but there are tons of small roasteries that people still don't know about, and those small-time roasteries are making handcrafted coffees with flavors that really didn't exist before, or at least with such a depth of flavor. After all, everything back then was just bulk made and shipped for the old coffee giants.
This isn't the case anymore. Next time you get a good coffee, embrace it and taste it for a second. Let it sit on your tongue, fake chew your coffee to get your saliva going to enhance the flavor, and see if you can pick up any of these extra notes. We're starting to get into the coffee glory days, as it's much more common to find little coffee shops and bigger retailers that carry Ethiopian blends, or utilize South American beans, or any other number of interesting places. You're already drinking coffee, you might as well enjoy it, and do so without risking diabetes from your 2 packets of sugar and 4 inch high whip cream stack.
For those of you that can't read the flavors easily, I'll provide a breakdown here for you. Some flavors go into as many as 3 sub-categories for the coffee. So, when listed here, it'll start with the most general flavor, to the most specific available flavor description, with as much depth as is provided. You will see lots of overlap of the same general flavor category for the coffees. What also gives the sense of this being a weird update is that there are lots of repetitions of 1st and 2nd flavor categories (and a couple where even the 3rd row pops out). And, the SCAA was trying to mix flavor descriptions that have already been provided before, but I think they should have left some of them out, as it gives me the impression that the taster was just trying to jab the roaster because they thought it tasted horribly.
Roasted - Pipe Tobacco
Roasted - Tobacco
Roasted - Burnt - Acrid
Roasted - Burnt - Ashy
Roasted - Burnt - Smoky
Roasted - Burnt - Brown, Roast
Roasted - Cereal - Grain
Roasted - Cereal - Malt
Spices - Pungent
Spices - Pepper
Spices - Brown Spice - Anise
Spices - Brown Spice - Nutmeg
Spices - Brown Spice - Cinnamon
Spices - Brown Spice - Clove
Nutty/Cocoa - Nutty - Peanuts
Nutty/Cocoa - Nutty - Hazelnut
Nutty/Cocoa - Nutty - Almond
Nutty/Cocoa - Cocoa - Chocolate
Nutty/Cocoa - Cocoa - Dark Chocolate
Sweet - Brown Sugar - Molasses
Sweet - Brown Sugar - Maple Syrup
Sweet - Brown Sugar - Caramelized
Sweet - Brown Sugar - Honey
Sweet - Vanilla
Sweet - Vanillin
Sweet - Overall Sweet
Sweet - Sweet Aromatics
Floral - Black Tea
Floral - Floral - Chamomile
Floral - Floral - Rose
Floral - Floral - Jasmine
Fruity - Berry - Blackberry
Fruity - Berry - Raspberry
Fruity - Berry - Blueberry
Fruity - Berry - Strawberry
Fruity - Dried Fruit - Raisin
Fruity - Dried Fruit - Prune
Fruity - Other Fruit - Coconut
Fruity - Other Fruit - Cherry
Fruity - Other Fruit - Pomegranate
Fruity - Other Fruit - Pineapple
Fruity - Other Fruit - Grape
Fruity - Other Fruit - Apple
Fruity - Other Fruit - Peach
Fruity - Other Fruit - Pear
Fruity - Citrus Fruit - Grapefruit
Fruity - Citrus Fruit - Orange
Fruity - Citrus Fruit - Lemon
Fruity - Citrus Fruit - Lime
Sour/Fermented - Sour - Sour Aromatics
Sour/Fermented - Sour - Acetic Acid
Sour/Fermented - Sour - Butyric Acid
Sour/Fermented - Sour - Isovaleric Acid
Sour/Fermented - Sour - Citric Acid
Sour/Fermented - Sour - Malic Acid
Sour/Fermented - Alcohol/Fermented - Winey
Sour/Fermented - Alcohol/Fermented - Whiskey
Sour/Fermented - Alcohol/Fermented - Fermented
Sour/Fermented - Alcohol/Fermented - Overripe
Green/Vegetative - Olive Oil
Green/Vegetative - Raw
Green/Vegetative - Green/Vegetative - Under-Ripe
Green/Vegetative - Green/Vegetative - Peapod
Green/Vegetative - Green/Vegetative - Fresh
Green/Vegetative - Green/Vegetative - Dark Green
Green/Vegetative - Green/Vegetative - Vegetative
Green/Vegetative - Green/Vegetative - Hay-Like
Green/Vegetative - Green/Vegetative - Herb-Like
Green/Vegetative - Beany
Other - Papery/Musty - Stale
Other - Papery/Musty - Cardboard
Other - Papery/Musty - Papery
Other - Papery/Musty - Woody
Other - Papery/Musty - Moldy/Dampy
Other - Papery/Musty - Musty/Dusty
Other - Papery/Musty - Musty/Earthy
Other - Papery/Musty - Animalic
Other - Papery/Musty - Meaty Brothy
Other - Papery/Musty - Phenolic
Other - Chemical - Bitter
Other - Chemical - Salty
Other - Chemical - Medicinal
Other - Chemical - Petroleum
Other - Chemical - Skunky
Other - Chemical - Rubber
The SCAA did say they were trying to be scientific about it, but how scientific can you be about something as subjective as the experience of flavor? Where do you draw the line between earthy and dusty? What if we've never tasted petroleum or rubber before, or have no idea what isovaleric acid is? Oh well. It's exciting to finally have a reasonable breakdown though, and shows how interested people are in learning more about coffees.
What flavors on the coffee wheel would you like to try? What flavors are you too scared to try? Let us know, and we'll tally up the votes and use it to judge which roasteries we should work with in the future and help determine what orders will suit all of you guys best.
Every morning, after running through a few alarms, half of America groans and reaches for a cup of coffee, and something quick and on the go for a meal. What if you could add caffeine to your bagel or muffin, or sprinkle it on your eggs? Thanks to science, this is a possibility. The world's most omni-present drug can now be even more omni-presenter.
And, what does caffeine powder taste like? It tastes like coffee, actually. When you're tasting coffee, the slightly bitter taste that comes through is largely the caffeine flavor than the coffee flavor. In fact, decaffeinated coffee has bitter flavor added typically, just so that you recognize it as coffee flavored and not bleh flavored brown water. It's why black tea has about 50% more caffeine than most teas and tastes the most bitter.
So, what should you sprinkle your caffeine powder on that won't be totally gross? Well, that depends on you. Do you like coffee-flavored baked goods? Coffee flavored ice cream? If so, go for it. If you're not opposed to slightly bitter tasting foods, it also goes decently with dark chocolate, kale, arugula, and sesame. Ever think you'd have a caffeinated salad? Well, now that you've read this, you certainly could. Or, perhaps you want to get the same caffeine kick but without having to worry about whitening your teeth? Pour some caffeine powder into your tea or a morning fruit shake. Sugar tends to help alleviate the bitterness (which is why so many people toss in cream, flavored syrup, and sugar into their coffees).
Aside from adding sugary stuff to your caffeine, another option is salt. Salt actually neutralizes the bitter flavor of caffeine, effectively canceling it out. Salt and pepper and caffeine with your eggs? Sure, why not. Salt and caffeine with your oatmeal? Go for it. We hope that a whole new world of peppiness has been opened up to you.
Keep in mind though, lots of the studies showing the benefits of coffee, do not study just caffeine. A big study published in June 2016 had researchers from Ulster University review 1,277 studies from 1970 through the time of the study, and it showed tons of benefits for people who drank up to 3 or 4 cups of coffee per day. If you're just adding caffeine though, and it's in its pure form, then you're not getting the antioxidant benefits, just the "pick me up and take over the world punch it in the face" feeling. However, you may still have to watch out for the negative effects that start to pop up in some studies once you surpass that 4 cups of coffee mark.