Coffee is about experimenting. You can become a coffee expert in your own kitchen.
However, it is a process that takes time, passion, love for the drink and a desire to know everything about it.
Table of Contents
What is a coffee connoisseur?
A coffee connoisseur is someone who knows everything about the drink; he or she knows the different roasts, types of beans, flavor profiles and preparation methods. He or she also knows all the new coffee trends.
As you become a coffee expert, your perspective on the beverage may change, e.g. B. Your favorite coffee may not be good enough or of high quality. Being a coffee expert means knowing what you like and how to prepare it.
The world coffee industry
The coffee market is booming as consumption increases across all age groups and global coffee exports were around 10.61 million bags in 2021. Arabica dominates the coffee bean segment of the global coffee bean market with a 70% market share. Due to its rich flavor and superior quality, Arabica coffee is likely to continue to dominate the market for years to come.
The growth of local and global coffee shop franchises is driving demand for a variety of coffee styles as customers are willing to pay for quality coffee that has become a means of socializing.
Instant coffee, for its part, dominates the global coffee market. Consequently, there is a great demand for instant coffee from the major coffee brands. It is also used in vending machines, small coffee shops and at home.
How do you become a coffee expert?
There are 4 great maxims in the coffee world that will accompany you on your way to becoming an expert:
- Explore the different types of coffee makers
- Learn to taste coffee
- Avoid products from the world of inferior coffee, as these are plentiful on the market
- Your buying habits can influence coffee producers
Know your beans
Coffee plants grow in what is known as the “equator belt“, which lies between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
You can’t make good coffee and pretend you know everything if you don’t know the beans. There are four main types of coffee beans, and if you want to become an expert on the subject, you need to know what each one tastes like and where they come from.
Arabica beans have a milder, sweeter flavor than other beans. It is the least acidic variety of bean and grows at higher elevations.
As the name suggests, the Robusta is a strong and hardy coffee plant. It has a reputation for tasting burnt at times. This coffee is mainly grown in Africa and Indonesia.
Liberica beans are rather rare. They are known to be slightly bitter and have a slightly woody flavor. They are not very popular in America and Europe, but they are widespread in the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, where they are grown.
Mostly grown in Southeast Asia, Excelsa coffee is a product with a slightly tart but fruity flavor profile. Excelsa beans make up only a small portion of the world’s coffee consumption, but they are a must if you want to become a true coffee connoisseur.
The main processes of the coffee bean
- Washed or wet-processed coffee is often described as clean, clear, or vibrant because the bean is thoroughly cleaned before drying. The coffee bean is tasted without the influence of the other parts of the cherry in processing.
- Natural or dry-processed products have higher acidity, more sweetness, fruity flavors and more body.
- Natural processing with pulp is a mix of both, where drying leaves some of the slime (the pulp of the cherry) around the pit. There are different stages of this process, but in general it can make the coffee taste sweeter.
This means that the beans come from a specific place or area. It is not a bean blend so you can taste the properties of the bean of that particular origin.
Types of roasting
The coffee beans are green before processing. Coffee beans get their different colors after roasting. This is also the main reason why they get their flavor.
There are four basic types of roasting that are used to classify different types of coffee.
There is a light roast, a medium roast, a medium to dark roast and a dark roast. Light roast coffee beans were not roasted as long as dark roast beans.
The roasting time of the beans is what is printed on the label on the outside of the coffee you purchased. If you don’t like strong, bitter coffee, a lighter roast is better.
During roasting, the oils contained in the beans are used to flavor the coffee. However, depending on where the beans come from during cultivation, this can also affect the taste of the coffee.
Taste different types of coffee drinks
To be a coffee connoisseur, you need to learn about all types of coffee beverages. You can only be an authority when you have tasted all the drinks and know which ones you like and which ones you don’t like. Below are the most popular drinks.
Espresso is a unique coffee that is usually brewed with different roasts. It is also the basis for many other coffee drinks.
Americano is a combination of hot water and a shot of espresso. However, it can be prepared at different levels of intensity, with one, two or three espresso shots.
The macchiato is basically a shot of espresso topped with milk froth.
The cappuccino consists of equal parts espresso, hot milk and milk froth. It is usually decorated with chocolate or cocoa powder.
The latte is served in a glass instead of a cup. It consists of a shot or two of espresso with hot milk and a little foam.
If you love chocolate, you will love the mocha with its combination of espresso, chocolate and frothed milk.
Cafe au lait
Literally translated, café au lait means “coffee with milk” and originated in France as a coffee made with equal parts espresso and steamed or hot milk.
Get to know all the ways of preparing coffee
While the coffee beans are crucial to the flavor profile of your cup, the way you brew the coffee is just as important. To call yourself a coffee connoisseur, you also need to understand the different brewing methods and how they affect the flavor.
Coffee in the pot
Pour-over coffee is prepared without machines. For example, you can use the Chemex method, where you place the ground coffee beans in a Chemex filter or cone, pour hot water by hand over the coffee powder, and allow it to drip naturally into the cup or mug.
Method of pressing
Another traditional way of preparing coffee is the press method. The French press and Aeropress are the most popular models.
Both are immersion coffee machines, where the ground coffee and hot water are combined in a glass container.
You can also brew a delicious cup of coffee over the stove’s flame. For Turkish coffee you can use a moka pot or a cezve.
Vacuum or siphon process
The vacuum brewing method uses a two-chamber vacuum coffee maker. The lower chamber is filled with water and the upper with ground coffee beans. The hot steam circulates through the upper chamber to brew the coffee.
When the brewer is removed from the fire and the lower chamber cools, this will suck the coffee back into the carafe.
Coarsely ground coffee beans, a carafe or a glass jar and patience are required for the preparation.
You need to put the ground coffee in a pot with water, stir and let it steep for at least 8 to 10 hours.
Equipment and accessories for making coffee
Before you can prepare the individual coffee variations, you need some equipment or you need to know what is used in the respective preparation.
The best piece of equipment to invest in is a good quality coffee grinder, for both manual and automatic brewing methods. A good and even grind will optimize your coffee. If you need a large amount of coffee, you should buy an electric coffee grinder. On the other hand, if you only brew coffee occasionally, a good hand grinder is your best bet.
In order to master the pour-over coffee technique, the use of a gooseneck kettle is essential. There is a whole range of kettles.
This type of kettle allows for greater precision and therefore even saturation of the coffee and is safer than a regular kettle as you have more control over the amount of water and the speed at which the water is poured over the ground beans.
If you want to brew exact coffee, you should buy an accurate scale that can weigh both your coffee dose and a larger amount of coffee when adding water.
Visit as many cafes as possible
If coffee is your passion, it’s time to visit many coffee shops. Forget the big chains and visit independent cafes instead. Along the way, rest assured that you will visit some third wave coffee shops.
What is a third wave coffee shop?
Third generation coffee shops are the ones that know how to make the coffee drinker feel special. They typically serve coffee that is purchased, produced and prepared with the customer experience in mind.
A third-generation coffee shop isn’t just about selling specialty coffees. Their focus and mission is customer experience and serving the perfect cup.
The history of coffee
The history of coffee is often associated with a herdsman named Kaldi in 9th-century Ethiopia. In the field, Kaldi saw his goats eating berries from a small bush and then running and jumping. He took some of the berries and shared them with the members of a nearby monastery. The monks also noticed that the berries gave them energy and included them in their diets to keep their energy levels up during work. Around 1400, coffee was already being traded across the entire Arabian Peninsula.
Globalization of coffee
Coffee was introduced to Europe during the Renaissance. Over the next two centuries, coffee spread across Europe and became popular with the invention of European coffee houses. These cafes were places to meet and discuss the issues of the day.
In America, coffee was introduced during colonization, first as an import and then as a crop. The cultivation of coffee in North and South America, like other crops, led to the displacement of the indigenous people and the development of large-scale plantations that employed the indigenous people as labor.
Coffee is still one of the most important raw materials in Central and South America. Global industry has introduced programs such as fair-trade certification to try to uphold ethical standards among suppliers.
How to drink coffee
The aroma of coffee is a matter of smell. The initial smell can give an indication of the freshness of the coffee and its quality. The smell can range from “ashy” to “floral” to “vinous”.
The ashy smell can indicate the degree of roast: light, medium or dark. If the coffee is particularly smoky, it has most likely been over-roasted or even burnt.
The resemblance of the aroma to certain flowers or plants usually means it is a mild coffee blend.
The vinous flavors are similar to the fruity flavors but are more acidic. These roasted coffees have flavors that linger in the mouth like a classic red wine.
The basic question to ask yourself to determine the body of a cup of coffee is “How does it feel in the mouth?” An odd but necessary question that reveals the coffee’s consistency.
The procedure for determining the body is similar to that of a wine tasting. When tasting the coffee body, the coffee is pushed back and forth in the mouth so that it actually covers all parts of the tongue.
Body is typically classified into three types: light, medium, or full-bodied, and is usually related to the amount of essential oils remaining in the coffee after brewing. The more essential oils left in the coffee, the sharper the taste of the coffee in the mouth.
This part includes the aroma, body and acidity, which is the sharp aftertaste of bitterness in the coffee. Analyzing taste is complicated because you have to pay attention to the taste buds. The taste bud receptors are divided into four basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty and bitter.
Because coffee is naturally bitter, the bitter taste buds, located at the back of the tongue, are always stimulated. The best way to determine the specific flavor of a cup of coffee is to focus on the front and center of the tongue to determine which flavors are specific to that cup of coffee.
The coffee’s finish essentially refers to the aftertaste, which is often described as “sweet and heavy” or “light and dry”. The pace of the finish can also be described as “fast” or “slow”.
This aspect of the tasting is particularly difficult to discern as the differences are very subtle. The aftertaste is strongly influenced by the aroma; certain aromas that were not recognizable to the nose may show up later in the taste of the finish.
The coffee supply chain
The coffee bean supply chain process typically involves seven stages: growing, harvesting, hulling, drying and packaging, bottling, blending and roasting.
The entire supply chain is extended through a number of intermediaries, including global transporters as well as exporters and retailers.
Coffee thrives best in a humid climate with a stable temperature of around 25 degrees Celsius, making Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Peru and other similar regions optimal growing areas. The seed germinates after about ten weeks, but it takes four to seven years for the tree to mature and produce its first harvest.
The red cherries are mainly picked by hand, and since not all cherries are ripe at the same time, a coffee tree has to be inspected several times. This process requires a significant amount of human resources and is not the only manual labor involved in coffee harvesting. The workers not only have to remove the peel and dirt from the cherry and extract the beans embedded in the fruit, but also put all the beans in the sun to dry them completely.
Once the coffee beans are dried, they are packed into sacks of around 60kg of beans and shipped to the exporters.
These intermediaries collect vast amounts of beans from different farmers to meet the needs of the global players in the coffee sector, who have their roasters and distribution centers around the world.
Coffee beans go through several stations before reaching their final destination, either from the farm to the drying station or from individual farmers to processors and roasters.
Pests in coffee
A coffee expert must also be able to identify the problems of the coffee plantations. The most important of these and the symptoms they cause on coffee trees are described below.
Coffee cherry beetle
The scientific name is Hypothenemus hampei. It is the most important pest of this crop as it causes direct damage to the bean, which can account for more than 80% of a plantation’s fruit. It is present in most producing countries.
Longhorn leaf miner
Its scientific name is Leuconptera coffeella. They are 2 to 3 mm long, silvery-white moths with a small black spot at the tip of the forewing. Symptoms of infestation are characteristic and prominent on dark green leaves, with large white, gray and brown spots caused by destruction of the leaf parenchyma.
The larvae remain inside the leaf all their lives, and when they have completed their cycle, they open a small hole in the upper part of the “mine” to pupate on the leaf.
Coccidia or aphids
These insects feed by sucking the sap of leaves, twigs, and fruits, and in some cases roots. They cause a weakening of the plants and can lead to their death in severe infestations.
They cause plant death, wilting of leaves and branches, and general debilitation.
Citrus mealybug of the roots
Scientific name Planococcus citri, primarily affects the roots of coffee trees. It causes yellowing of foliage, brown spots on leaves, and blackening of branch tips. The plants look unhealthy, are weak and often die.
Its scientific name is Atta insularis. This pest causes damage to the leaves by cutting them off to the point where only the midrib remains.
How to store coffee
To become a coffee expert, you should have beans at home, and for that you also need to know how to store them properly.
Keeping the beans fresh
It is best to freshly grind the coffee. Therefore, it is best to store the coffee beans properly so that they have a longer shelf life. Light, oxygen and moisture are the great enemies of coffee freshness.
Therefore, you should keep them in a dark, cool place. However, avoid storing the beans in the fridge or freezer as the beans can absorb the flavor of other foods you have stored there.
Store coffee beans in an airtight container
Once the coffee beans are roasted, they begin to decompose and release gases (CO2), eventually losing their vitality and freshness. Store the coffee in an airtight container or in a container that allows gases to escape but no oxygen to enter. Coffee packaging often has an outlet valve that allows this process to take place.
How to reuse coffee waste
Don’t waste coffee grounds. Throw it in the garden – plants thrive on the nitrates in the soil. If you have a vegetable garden, you can add used coffee grounds to your compost or use them as fertilizer by simply dumping them on the ground. Discover everything you can do with coffee waste in our blog.
The most important coffee trends
With hardly any other drink are people as willing to experiment as with coffee.
Recently there has been a growing interest in coffee ideas from Asia. Coffee experts combine several drinks into a new coffee idea. Remember that new trends in coffee consumption and coffee preparation are born every year. Stay tuned.
A coffee trend is to perfect the classic coffee drink with creative toppings. Arabic spice blends with vanilla bourbon accents are very popular. These toppings contain aromatic spices such as cardamom, nutmeg or cinnamon and can be combined with all the classics such as espresso or macchiato.
Coffee as a mixed drink
The coffee trends will continue to lead to unusual ideas and mixtures of coffee with tea and alcohol. This category includes creations that have already become classics, such as Cold Brew, Pink Latte or Nitro Coffee.
He is very popular thanks to social media. This type of iced coffee looks like an inverted cappuccino. The Korean drink is made with milk and an equal amount of instant coffee powder, sugar and hot water. The last three ingredients are mixed and whipped into a foam, which is then poured over the milk.
Above all, the refreshing properties of coffee enrich the coffee menu at times when you have to escape the heat. Here the freshness of a lemon or orange is combined with the special aroma of a cold brew. Almond milk and crushed ice complete the refreshing drink.
Coffee with mushrooms
Another coffee trend is coffee with mushrooms. Medicinal mushrooms such as chaga and reishi are used, which are ground and added to the coffee powder.
The world of coffee is complex. Learning every drink, every preparation method and every variety requires a high level of commitment.
You can find all sorts of roasts, beans and blends at your favorite coffee shop or at a store near you. If you’re passionate about these beans, you can become a coffee connoisseur in less time than you think.
The best way to learn about coffee is by experimenting with different types of beans and brewing methods. Don’t be afraid to try something new, you might find your new favorite type of coffee.