Working in coffee is one of the most rewarding occupations you can practice. There are so many things to learn and master. There are so many people that work together to bring a robust and aromatic drink to you every morning. From the farmer caring for the soil and the plant, to the roaster carefully crafting the bean to bring out its natural flavors, to the barista and their control of ratio and temperature, there are many artisans working together with one vision in mind. A perfect cup of coffee.
Understanding the relationship between farmer, roaster, and barista, and consumer is important to fully enjoying your daily cup of coffee. The roaster needs to carefully select the farmers they work with. The barista needs to carefully choose the roaster who provides their coffee. A consumer chooses the barista who makes their favorite cup.
Here at Bridge Coffee Co, we are committed to bridging the gap from the field to the cup. It is our mission to build relationships at every step in the process. We have a commitment to quality because we truly enjoy great coffee. We love what we do and we just want to pass that joy on to every person we come in contact with. Every person at every step of the process comes together when the coffee is poured to enjoy the fruits of everyone’s labors. Here are a few pointers to begin to decipher the complexities of the flavors in your cup. Grab a coffee taster's flavor wheel and dive in!
Single origin coffees are like single cask whiskeys. There is one bean from one source and all its unique characteristics really shine. Compare a Colombia to an Ethiopia and you’ll notice that they taste as far apart as the countries they originate from.
There are many things that affect the flavor of the coffee bean, from the species of bean to the soil it is grown in, to the elevation where it’s grown, and finally the “color” of the roast. Even the temperature of the water when the coffee is brewed and consumed can drastically change what you taste. The soil will affect what minerals feed the plant and changes what compounds will be present when in the coffee bean. The elevation affects the environment the coffee grows in and has an effect on the coffee berry as it matures on the plant. Choosing a roast you like is akin to a waiter asking if you’d like your steak medium-rare or well-done. The temperature of the water affects how the dissolvable solids in the ground coffee beans are extracted.
Don’t worry if you’re not an expert on your first taste. Take your time to develop your palate. A professional whiskey reviewer once told me a story about how it took time for his palate to develop. When he first started trying to distinguish flavors in his drinks, all he could taste was alcohol. It didn’t matter if it was a five dollar bottle or a hundred dollar bottle. It all tasted pretty similar. But he kept at it. One day, it finally clicked for him. He was drinking a bottle with his friend and he noticed notes of cherry in his scotch. His friend noticed honey and cream. They looked up the tasting notes of the whiskey and found that notes of cherry, honey, cream, as well as one or two other flavors were all commonly found in that particular batch.
Even though they both found different flavors in the same whiskey, that didn’t mean one person was right and the other wrong. They just happened to hone in on different aspects of the same drink. Different people will get different tasting notes from coffee as well. Everyone’s taste is different and your taste is also affected by what you’ve eaten recently (especially garlic!).
My personal favorite coffee is an Ethiopian bean. It has a sweetness and mellow acidity that sings of blueberry or apricot, depending on the farm and the roast. At Bridge Coffee Co, we have relationships with a few farms from Ethiopia and seasonally rotate which farm we proudly feature. Here, you can check out our Ethiopian single origin coffee.
I’ve also been enjoying our limited run of Uganda, it has a deep earthiness that rolls into an explosion of sweet caramel on the finish. If you enjoy coffee as much as I do, you’ll be excited to unravel the many notes of flavor jumping out of your coffee, singing the song of every hand that helped craft your morning drink, from the field to cup.