So the first in a series of posters I have and will be making as part of my very own “Last Ten Feet.” My hope by creating these posters is to help my co-workers feel more confident in talking about whole bean coffee when customers approach, and make the sale just that much easier.
Before I go into the term of the week, I’d like to give an idea of how I’m choosing them. Each week, we’re given a blend that we are supposed to taste and talk about together as a group, as a means to keep ourselves familiar with what we’re selling, and so that we don’t taste one coffee, one time, and try to speak about it from a memory that’s many months (or years) old.
So the first word I chose was based on that week’s blend – Komodo Dragon. I make two posters each week – one about the term, and one about the blend. I chose in this week to use Komodo Dragon to demonstrate a coffee’s body. Of course, there are many other terms I could have chosen, but I thought I’d start simple, so body it is.
To put it as simply as possible, the body of a coffee is it’s mouthfeel – is it heavy? Does it linger after you’ve swallowed the coffee? Or is it gone?
Our coffees have a variety of bodies, ranging from full to light. I often suspect that people who think of our coffee as too strong are referring to the full bodied nature – the lingering body that can be overwhelming if you are new to coffee or not a regular coffee drinker.
Each week, I host as many coffee tastings as I can, and I ask that others participate in them when I am not present, using my posters as a means to guide them. We start by talking about the term of the week, and then begin a formal tasting, looking specifically for evidence of that term in the coffee we are tasting (when possible – not all terms will be something that can be tasted).
1. Smell: Hold the coffee under your nose and smell, covering with your hand. What do you smell? (Of note, this gets easier with time – at first all you smell is “coffee.”)
2. Slurp: Slurping the coffee is an important step – it is hot. The slurping allows enough air in that you don’t burn yourself, plus it “aspirates” the coffee, allowing it to hit every taste center at once. While slurping, what do you taste? Where do you taste the most?
3. Discuss: Pretty straightforward – talk about what we’ve smelled and tasted so far.
4. Taste with a pairing: We find a food that will better bring out a certain element of the coffee. Is it chocolately? Try it with a brownie. Is it citrusy? Try it with a lemon cake. Etc. Regardless, in this step, you bite the food and sip the coffee with the food. While tasting, think about what you notice now. Has the taste changed? Is a new element evident?
Each week, I repeat with the new coffee of the week, and my plan is to update this blog with these posters, tastings, and any interesting pairings I may discover. I hope you stick around for my journey.