This article is a guide for those who want to learn how to fully enjoy black coffee and understand this wide variety of beans. How to learn to feel these notorious notes of anything? What experiments will help you find your real coffee? Explore this multifaceted world to turn every coffee shop trip into a small gastronomic adventure.
Coffee hasn't always received the attention it deserves. Only low quality coffee beans got to many countries. Coffee drinkers didn't think too often about how the drink is made and put on the market, or how it should be brewed. A huge amount of coffee was a cheap and bitter drink, which was drunk for domestic purposes: as a medicine or tonic.
However, there have been significant changes in the past few decades. An international network of courageous growers, vendors, roasters, baristas and scientists have consistently elevated coffee to the status of an art - akin to elite wine or beer. You may think that you are familiar with the taste of coffee - tart and bitter, but this is just a drop in the ocean of the palette available to us today.
"Drip" (made with a drip coffee machine - approx. ew) or "filter coffee" can have a balanced and sweet, chocolate-like taste, tingle like champagne, or have a fruity aftertaste, resembling blueberries. When I say "chocolate" or "blueberries," I mean the coffee itself literally smells like these things — you don't need to add syrup or sweeteners to get that effect. You will never forget the moment when you first taste a coffee whose taste exceeds the usual characteristics of this drink.
The expansion of the palate is driven in part by the global trend towards new roasting technologies. Any roaster creates a so-called "profile" - a combination of time and temperature to give the beans a special taste. Historically, coffee has been roasted for quite some time and at high temperatures (think of traditional Italian coffee culture or coffee chains in the United States). The profile should enhance the characteristics gained from the roasting process - just as aging bourbon in oak barrels gives it its special flavor. Recently, however, representatives of the coffee industry in a number of countries (North America, Australia, Great Britain, the Scandinavian countries and Japan) have been promoting new roasting technologies, in which more attention is paid to the quality of the beans. For example, roasting at a relatively low temperature and for a shorter period of time emphasizes the "character" of the coffee - a unique set of flavors inherent in the bean itself and the place where it grew - or "terroir", to refer to a term from the wine industry again. ...
In parallel with this, producers from the "coffee belt" - coffee-producing states located mainly between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn - are improving cultivation and processing technologies, supplying unique and delicious beans to the coffee market. These modernization processes have opened up new opportunities for consumers. Coffee has never had as much variety or flavor potential as it does today.
Regardless of whether you consider yourself a coffee lover or are just getting started with this drink, the best way to enjoy coffee is to pay tribute to all the people responsible for its appearance in your cup: growers, buyers of unroasted beans, roasters , barista, etc. Today, "varietal" coffee in terms of the breadth of choice is not inferior to wine and craft beer - however, it is still not so popular.
Choose quality grains. Say goodbye to the huge canisters and paper bags of ground coffee cluttering supermarket shelves. There is no smell of quality. I recommend taking a closer look at independent local roasters, and if there are none nearby, move your searches online. If possible, talk to roasters in person: talk about the specifics of their beans by visiting their coffee shops or by emailing them. In my experience, the more information they can communicate about their product, the higher the chance that they value quality and transparency.
The roaster (or the barista working on his beans) should be able to tell you the country of origin of the beans, the type of coffee, the manufacturer, the processing method, and even the height of its growth. This information helps to understand that the coffee production was treated responsibly, and the roaster values its main ingredient - which allows us to hope for the high quality of the final product (if the roaster does not possess this information, rather do your feet from such an establishment). Many roasters even go on business trips to coffee farms to personally taste and select coffees for their customers.
Roasters often work with both "homogeneous" coffee (in this case, all beans have the same country of origin), and with blends (a mix of beans from different countries). Both options can be excellent products, however, as a rule, "unmixed" coffee is of a higher quality - it is more likely to be an interesting drink with a special, unique taste, consisting of shades that reflect the type of grain, its place collection, method of processing and storage. Conversely, blends often have a more stable taste, which is not affected by the season of production, but are "assembled" from lower quality (but quite decent) beans with the clear goal of making the price more affordable.
In this case, it's always better to spend a little more - if, of course, you have money. In part, this choice will affect the taste - high-quality coffee is always more expensive, but it also means that your coffee will be produced in an ethical manner. Historically, coffee makers have always been exploited, and even the "mutually acceptable price" - which was supposed to protect the interests of the owners of coffee farms - did not really help their situation. In the past few decades, their economy has not shown much growth. That is why some roasters deliberately sell their product at a higher price, which increases the final price that the consumer pays. Whenever possible, try to buy coffee from roasters who are committed to ethical production and transparent pricing - that is, whose price tag reflects the tremendous labor intensity of the human contribution to the coffee production process.