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Talking and writing about coffee is not as easy as it may seem at first. Coffee is an ancient, mysterious, beautiful drink with a rich history. Yet, even knowing the history of coffee is not enough to explain the taste, origin, and depth of flavor of this beverage. Some people spend years learning to review coffee and give justice to all different beans and brewing methods. But, of course, you don’t need to do such a nuanced breakdown of a drink in your first review attempts. Still, there is a lot to know and consider when describing coffee.
So, here are some tips on how to complete a perfect coffee review, whether it is for personal or academic purposes.
Steps before tasting coffee
The actual review starts before you even take the first sip of the beverage. Thus, you may briefly mention the overall atmosphere of the place you order coffee. Of course, it’s up to a reviewer to decide whether such information is relevant to the topic. However, if you choose to do so, be brief but efficient.
Explain the overall environment, design, and aesthetics of the place. Consider noting several design choices or unique elements of the place. Take a look at the menu and describe the type of food and beverages they serve. Next, move on to the barista stand. Take a look at the espresso machine and other available brewing methods.
Of course, any coffee reviewer starts with espresso before trying anything else. So, once you receive a drink, note its color, body, and other parameters. For example, does your espresso have foam or bubbles on the surface? Perhaps, it rather has soft, creamy foam of lighter color. The difference between these two appearances is essential and worth mentioning. If you can see coffee under the foam, it is usually because of old coffee beans, bad equipment, poor grinding, or errors in dosing.
Next, you can move to the aroma. Describe the notes you catch. Is it a strong, sweet, bitter smell? Is it pleasant? Is it intense? The aroma can tell a lot about the quality and taste of espresso. Also, the initial aroma should determine the aftertaste of your first sips.
Lastly, take a picture of your cup to fully demonstrate what you describe.
The first coffee sip is essential. It will have everything you need to know about the quality, region, roasting, and equipment used in making this coffee. However, you shouldn’t rush. First, coffee tastes different once it changes temperature. So, you will need to taste your coffee in a few sips with pauses in between. This way, you let the coffee cool down a little and reveal its next layer of flavor.
Also, you have work to do after the first sip. Thus, you need to evaluate the color of the coffee. Is it pitch black (which will be unusual)? How does it react to sunlight? It should change color to reddish or golden. The color can indicate the type of roast used, which should be the darkest for espresso.
Finally, don’t try to analyze or focus on the flavor profiles in your first sip. It’s best to hold such evaluation till the second sip. The first one is just for getting your tongue used to coffee’s temperature and overall taste. By the way, do have some water beforehand to cleanse your palette.
The second and following sips should help you determine the main coffee parameters. Writing about such abstract matters is always challenging, of course. You should have a strong vocabulary and an advanced palette to note all the flavors and nuances. So, if you need help, read a few speedy paper reviews and seek writers for the task. A professional writer can help you formulate your impressions and thoughts into a coherent text, easy to read and understand.
Here are the parameters to discuss after tasting.
Every coffee cup will be different in its body. Some have rich, velvety, full bodies. Others may appear a bit more watery or not as intense. So write down your first impression. Is it smooth and soft or sharp and dense? Why do you think that is?
Most people would say that all coffee is bitter, which is far from the truth. In reality, only some beans and a few brewing methods can achieve bitterness in taste. So, have you found the coffee overly bitter and unbalanced? Perhaps, there is some sweetness to it, balancing the bitter aftertaste. Maybe, there is no bitterness at all, making way for extreme acidity.
Acidity is the second taste profile people notice in coffee. Not all beans can deliver high acidity. It’s also about washing, roasting, and brewing. However, normally an espresso should not have much acidity, which you should mention in a review. Yet, all coffee becomes ever so slightly acidic as it gets cold. So, write about your last sip of coffee and tell if it acquired that acidity.
Beyond simple bitter or sour notes, most beans will have something extra hidden in their taste. Some subtle, additional flavors to reveal at your second and following sips. These can be anything from nutty flavors to rum or whiskey, berries, dark chocolate, raisins, or else.
Overall, you will first notice the most familiar flavors, as your tongue and mind are most used to that taste and explanation. Yet, with time your palette will grow to sense hints of lesser-revealed flavors.
Also, feeling too much of a certain flavor may indicate wrong bean processing or poor quality of coffee. So, everything you feel in that cup is worth describing and explaining.
Last but not least, no coffee review is complete without a few words on the aftertaste. So, take time between the ships to evaluate the lasting coffee flavor in your mouth. Is it bitter, sweet, strong, or even present at all? Start by saying whether it’s pleasant or not. Then explain how weak or strong it is. A good cup of coffee will have a long-lasting, pleasant aftertaste that will slowly disappear on its own.
Writing about coffee can be a lot of fun. It’s not such a precise science where having personal opinions is unwelcome. On the other hand, it’s all about your impression, liking, and experience. So, don’t be afraid to get a bit personal in a review. Be true to what you taste, and add plenty of comparisons, explanations, and descriptions to make your readers understand the review’s message.