Espresso coffee tasting

How to taste an espresso coffee

Have you ever wanted to taste an espresso like a true expert? We all know how to recognize the coffee we love most from the one that disappoints us. Each of us has our favorite coffee, an elixir that makes every day better.

But how does an expert distinguish a quality espresso ? In this article let's see together how to learn how to taste an espresso!

How to taste an espresso coffee

1. Before starting: the environment

Espresso tasting should always take place in a neutral environment, with little noise, soft lights and no odors that could influence the judgment.
Start by drinking a glass of water to clean your mouth, then brew your espresso.

2. View: how should the coffee crema be?

The first sense to involve is sight, which is fundamental for an initial evaluation. Look carefully at your espresso and check that the crema is a hazelnut colour, neither too light nor too dark , preferably with brown or almost reddish streaks. A lighter crema indicates an under-extracted coffee, while a darker crema indicates an over-extracted coffee. In the first case, the coffee will be less intense and full-bodied, in the second it could be bitter and astringent , resulting in it being too bitter.

Make sure the cream has no bubbles that are too large or pale in color compared to the rest of the cup. Furthermore, the cream must be persistent, acting as a cap for the aromas.

3. Smell

Now let's move on to smell. Break the cream with a teaspoon, bring the cup to your nose and evaluate the quantity of aromas . Try to identify pleasant or unpleasant scents, taking long breaths.

Try writing down positive notes on a piece of paper which may include scents of flowers, fruit, citrus fruits, chocolate, cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla, honey, malt, toast, caramel and nuts. Negative aromas could be rubber, jute, wet grass, dirt, hay, damp wood, moss, mold, mushrooms, ash and tar.

4. The taste

Let's now move on to the tasting. Drink in small sips with a sip, focusing on the sensation of taste and touch. Swirl the coffee on your tongue to evaluate its body, which is halfway between that of water and that of a syrup. Consider whether the body is velvety, round or firm.

Concentrate on the aromatic part and the balance of your espresso, confirming or modifying the olfactory judgment. Also evaluate acidity, sweetness, bitterness and astringency. Acidity is felt on the side of the tongue, sweetness on the tip, bitterness on the back, and astringency on the walls of the mouth, although some studies argue that perception is always subjective .

In the Italian tradition, the use of a blend balances bitterness and body with acidity and aromas. If you taste a single origin coffee, it may be slightly biased towards acidity or bitterness, but neither should uncomfortably overpower the other.

5. Persistence

After about ten minutes of tasting, focus your attention on the sensations remaining on the palate and on the aromas that rise retronasally. At this stage, you should perceive only positive notes, without the lingering bitterness that could indicate a flaw.

Remember that roasting affects the characteristics of the coffee , with a dark roast can cancel out positive aromas in favor of bitterness and burnt odors. With a lighter roast, the bitterness remains lighter and the sweetness and aromas are enhanced.

Now, all you have to do is put these tips into practice in your next espresso tasting!