When it comes to producing or drinking great coffee, the measure of success is always, and will always be how the coffee tastes in the cup! There are so many variables this can sometimes be a challenge, however, the better your palette the more chance you have of diagnosing any issues. I am always looking for ways to train my taste senses to be even better, and on hearing about The Barista League I jumped at the chance.
Each month they send a package of 150g of coffee in non labelled bags with a challenge! You then complete the challenge and enter your results online to see how you have done. August was my first month of competing, and I have to say I was blown away. The quality of the samples and the packaging are great. It really felt like something special.
The August challenge was to identify 3 different beans based on their processing. The coffee was all from the same farm, however one was a Geisha Washed, a Geisha Natural and a Honey Catuai.
As natural processing is my personal favourite, this was my starting point. As soon as I ground the coffee I was smelling for that distinctive natural twang. It wasn’t as prominent as some of the big, beefy naturals, but that slight hint of booziness gave it away. I then looked for the matching flavour notes in the other two. The Honey Catuai I found more by a process of elimination rather than taste skills giving me a definite!
After entering my results I found out I completed the challenge with 3/3 correct which I am pleased about.
After you have entered your results there is a video to watch talking through the tasting and what to look for. For reference here are the lessons/flavours associated with each coffee.
Geisha: A very light body, almost scented tea-like, with very floral and vanilla notes. Look for a very elegant cup!
Honey Catuai: A full-body, sweet, with a chocolate after taste, stone fruits flavours like plum. Look for a sweet and heavy cup!