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#974399 --- 02/05/09 09:48 AM 10 Ways to Judge a Cup of Coffee
BraveHeart Offline
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Registered: 04/12/00
Posts: 17740
Loc: TOV Seneca Falls
Michaele Weissman's 10 Ways to Judge a Cup of Coffee:

1. The Scent
Our sense of smell is much more sensitive than our sense of taste. Anyone who has been captivated by the smell of coffee won't be surprised to learn that coffee releases more aromatic compounds than any other food. These should be pleasing aromas, but bad coffee may include onion-y and vegetable-y elements in its scent.

2. The First Sip
Try tasting each new coffee black. Nothing is wrong with milk and sugar, but they alter the taste and texture of the coffee. So, when learning about coffee, it's a good idea to take a few pure sips. Also, let it cool slightly to make the range of flavors in the cup more accessible.

3. Sweetness and Saltiness
Look for an underlying natural sweetness. That taste comes from the ripeness of the coffee cherry. Professional tasters rank sweetness as the most important taste characteristic of high-grade coffee. Coffee should never taste salty. Saltiness is caused by processing defects.

4. Acidity
Taste for a bright, light acidity that is pleasing. This is not to be confused with the stomach-churning acidity that you get, say, from coffee that has been sitting on an office hotplate for four hours.

5. Texture
A nice texture for coffee has a little thickness. It's not thin and watery. The last taste you experience with good coffee should be smooth, and there should be a pleasing, sweet aftertaste.

6. Fruits and Vegetables
Finding words to describe the interplay of what our taste buds detect (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and savory) isn't easy. Many of the world's most prized coffees, such as those from Yirgacheffe in Ethiopia, abound in flavors that are described as bright, lemony, orangey, berry-like, and floral. When the fruity flavors go bad, however, they can degenerate into vegetable tastes. Not so good. Who wants sautéed onions or steamed cauliflower in their coffee cup?

7. Spices
Exotic flavors that are spicy (think cinnamon and cloves), smoky, and woodsy can be desirable. Such tastes often appear in Indonesian coffees. In excess, they can be unpleasant.

8. Natural Sugar
Chocolaty, caramel-like, nutty, and toasty flavors come from the sugar browning that occurs during roasting. Latin American coffees at their best have lots of these yummy, warm, sweet notes. In lower quality coffees from Latin America (like some of the national brands you buy at the supermarket), this sugar browning can produce the sense of swallowing a mouthful of dry, bitter grain.

9. The Roast
Roasting can be light, medium, dark, or very dark. If you detect a burnt quality in a coffee, it may be a bad roast. In the U.S. there are regional differences in roasting. Companies from the Pacific Northwest tend toward darker roasts.

10. Espresso Notes
Espresso is made from a blend of coffees brewed under great pressure, using a large amount of coffee and a small amount of water. Espresso is dense and intense and can stand up to other flavorings. High quality espresso has just as complex a flavor range as brewed coffee. If you order an espresso in a café, the layer of reddish brown foam on the top, called the crema, should be thick and creamy, and you should be able to push it away from you with the back of a spoon. If you order a cappuccino, the milk foam should be thick, creamy, and sweet.

Tip: Knowing where your coffee comes from can help you pick one that will taste great to you. Latin American coffees tend to be chocolaty and mild. Coffees from east Africa tend to have a wake-up-your-mouth kind of perkiness that coffee pros call brightness. Coffees from Indonesia tend to be earthy, dark, and more intense.

Would you like to know more?
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#974430 --- 02/05/09 10:26 AM Re: 10 Ways to Judge a Cup of Coffee [Re: BraveHeart]
Gold Member

Registered: 01/09/06
Posts: 17154
Consumer Reports Picks the Best Cup o' Brew

Our top-rated Colombian coffee is also a CR Best Buy

Folgers, Maxwell House, and Starbucks are America's best-selling ground coffees. But all three were iced by Eight O'Clock Colombian coffee in our taste tests. As for Starbucks, it didn't even place among the top regular coffees and trailed among decafs.

Our tests of 19 coffees also show that some of the best cost the least. At about $6 per pound, Eight O'Clock costs less than half the price of Gloria Jean's, Peet's, and other more expensive brands.

Like your joe without all the caffeine? Dunkin' Donuts and Millstone were the front runners among the decafs. But Folgers Gourmet Selection Lively Colombian came in close behind and costs up to $3 less per pound. But even the best decaffeinated coffees couldn't match the best regular brews in our taste tests.

What we tasted
Our coffee experts focused on 100 percent Colombian — a best-selling bean — for regular coffee. Most of our decaffeinated coffees are a blend of different beans.

What makes a great cup of Colombian? Lots of aroma and flavor, some floral notes and fruitiness, a touch of bitterness, and enough body to provide a feeling of fullness in the mouth. Woody, papery, or burnt tastes are off-notes.

Weeks of sipping and swirling confirmed that even 100 percent Colombian coffee and its Juan Valdez logo don't guarantee quality. Our trained testers unearthed other surprises:

Still so-so after all these years
Chock full o'Nuts and Maxwell House have pushed coffee that's "heavenly" and "good to the last drop" since 1932 and 1907, respectively. But off-notes, little complexity, and, for Chock full o' Nuts, variable quality put both behind Eight O'Clock.

When boutique isn't better
Midwest-based Caribou and Kickapoo beat an array of larger players among regular coffees. But Bucks County Coffee, from Langhorne, Penn., tasted only OK, and Peet's, from Berkeley, Calif., was burnt and bitter, despite costing $14 per pound. Peet's, Archer Farms, and Kickapoo also varied from batch to batch.

Caffeine differences
None of our decaffeinated coffees had more than 5 milligrams of caffeine per 6-ounce serving. But among regular coffees, Caribou and Bucks County had roughly four times the caffeine (195 milligrams) of some of the lowest-level brews. Medical experts say up to 600 milligrams per day is probably safe for most and can help keep you alert. But heart patients and women who are pregnant or nursing should stay below 200 milligrams, which might mean sidestepping those brands among the caffeinated coffees we tested.

How to choose
Several of our top coffees could save you $25 to $70 per year over pricier brands even if you drank just one 6-ounce cup per day. Here's what else to think about:

Consider how you take it
Coffees judged very good taste fine black. Milk and sugar can improve a mediocre coffee, but not even cream is likely to help the lowest-scoring decafs.

Choose a good coffeemaker
The best coffeemakers from our January report reached the 195º to 205º F required to get the best from the beans and avoid a weak or bitter brew. A top Michael Graves model costs just $40.

Consider grinding for fresher flavor
Even the best pre-ground coffee can't beat the best fresh-ground when it comes to taste. One top grinder from our January report, the Mr. Coffee IDS77, costs only $20.

#974436 --- 02/05/09 10:34 AM Re: 10 Ways to Judge a Cup of Coffee [Re: ]
HeavenlyPlaces Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 02/26/02
Posts: 21988
Loc: Someplace Else
One of the most interesting things I learned last year when I toured a coffee plantation was how sweet the coffee cherry is; the outer fruit pulp I mean, not the bean inside.
"I went shopping for feminine protection. I decided on a .380 automatic."
- Karen Riply

#974452 --- 02/05/09 10:55 AM Re: 10 Ways to Judge a Cup of Coffee [Re: HeavenlyPlaces]
BraveHeart Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 04/12/00
Posts: 17740
Loc: TOV Seneca Falls
Wholl drink a toast with me
To the devil and the deep blue sea
Gold drives a man to dream

#974607 --- 02/05/09 04:07 PM Re: 10 Ways to Judge a Cup of Coffee [Re: BraveHeart]
Rick-the-Builder Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 03/28/07
Posts: 11723
Loc: Finger Lakes USA
Two ways to judge a cup of coffee:

1.) It's hot,
2.) It wakes me up

....good coffee.
Dad always said that you can always tell an idiot,... but you can't tell him much.