I was going to write about chocolate given the Valentine's Day holiday, but then Friday I finally made it to a coffee cupping. A coffee cupping, in case you didn't read the article linked in the last post, is basically a coffee tasting. I went to the one at Everyman Espresso sponsored by Counter Culture Coffee.The time was right and it was near my office. When I got there there were several people writing on clipboards and sniffing glasses of ground beans in a very knowing manner. I had missed the instructions part so I just sniffed. There were various stages to the sniffing, dry, wet and after a process called "breaking". After the sniffing there was the actual tasting part which was followed by a discussion of the findings.
It became clear to me once again how hard it is to describe a taste. About the first sample people mentioned highlights of cinnamon and fruit and notes of blueberry. I thought, "it tastes like coffee." For the second sample caramel was mentioned and notes of asparagus. I thought, "it tastes like coffee." The last sample was thought to be more earthy with musty accents and notes of dried cherry. I thought, "it tastes like strong coffee."
Who knew - here I was coffee drinker since my parents used to mix some in my milk and I had no idea all that was going on in that dark brown brew. I knew the coffee was good, but unfortunately I could neither hear nor taste any notes. Someone reassured me that it was difficult to discern the various components at first, but that one did develop a coffee palate over time. I doubt that that person knew I had a brick of Bustelo concealed in my bag.
Description and what we choose to describe is interesting. Coffee can have notes of blueberry, but do blueberries ever have notes of coffee? Does coffee actually have all flavors and when did we start discussing taste in terms of auditory sensation? Perhaps with the truly wonderful we are at a loss for words.
I think I finally get the "tastes like chicken" joke.