Video: How to taste coffee

Last updated 05:00 05/03/2013

Brewmaster, Stuart Hargie shows stuff what to look for in a perfect Coffee.

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You might think all coffee tastes the same, but Stuart Hargie begs to differ. Hargie, New Zealand's most qualified coffee taster, says the rise of single origin bean brews has made choosing a coffee as complex as choosing a glass of wine.

Hargie, who is head judge at this week's Huhtamaki Barista Championship in Wellington, shares a few tips to get you through coffee tasting 101.


The different characteristics of coffee can come from a variety of sources and are identified in several different ways. The standard cupping procedure involves smelling the coffee deeply, then tasting the coffee, allowing it to spread to the back of the tongue. 

AROMA: The smell of grounds after water is added is referred to as the aroma.  Experienced most clearly 1-2 minutes after adding water, you are looking for descriptors such as ashy, smokey, chemical, caramel, floral, nutty, citrus, tobacco or woody.  

TASTE: Taste encompasses qualities of acidity, bitterness, sweetness, saltiness or sourness.  Each is pleasant and desirable in coffee to varying levels, but excessive qualities or a lack thereof can create an unpleasant taste.  For example, acidity is the descriptor of how bright and lively the coffee tastes - basically your first impression.

BODY: How the coffee feels as it settles on your tongue.  When you talk about body you are referring to the texture, weight and consistency, and whether it is oily, grainy, or watery.  

FINISH: The aftertaste that remains in your mouth - finish ranges from chocolatey to spicy, with hints of caramel, smokiness, fruitiness or other flavours.

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