Coffee shops are more popular than ever, giving everyone a chance to experience the beauty of an excellent brew. There's a whole world of coffee, and as your palate for it develops, you'll discover what your own preferences are. The first and most important tip is to be mindful as you try new things: taste is subjective, so by paying attention to what you like the most, you'll soon learn more about your favourites!
So what should you be looking out for along the way?
#1: Pick your method
There are dozens of ways to make a cuppa. In coffee shops, you'll usually be drinking pressure-brewed coffee, which adds flavour by running highly pressurised water through the fine grounds. This has the benefit of getting delicious results very fast, which makes it ideal for busy food service environments! Some cafes, coffee shops and restaurants also offer French presses or filters, which take a little longer but give you more control.
#2: Read up on roasting
Different coffee shops will have different beans available, and how the beans are roasted tells you a lot about their flavour profile. Roasts generally run from light to dark, with lighter roasts having more acidity and less 'body'—both coffee terms covered later in this guide. Whatever your preferred roast level, look out for places that grind beans on-site every day; this enhances the flavour hugely.
#3: Sit back and smell the beans
Good coffee has a heady, almost intoxicating aroma. The more you enjoy the scent of your coffee, the more you'll love its taste! Once you've sat down with your cup, taking a few slow inhales before you drink is a great way to start getting to know what you like the most. Look out for notes of caramel, fresh earth or dark chocolate in particular—these are often the hallmarks of a quality brew.
#4: Acidity, body and flavour
These three terms are the ones most often used to discuss coffee's unique taste profile. You can determine a coffee's acidity by how strong a sense of dryness you have in the back of your throat after every sip; the more acidic the coffee, the more pronounced that sensation will be. 'Body' refers to coffee's well-rounded flavour and is more obviously present in the scent—though consider also the way your drink feels in your mouth, particularly once it's no longer piping hot. 'Flavour' in this context is focused mostly on how those different scent notes come through in the taste. This also includes aftertaste, which is an important part of the coffee experience—take a moment to consider which notes linger the most strongly after you swallow.
Contact a company like Artcaffe Coffee and Bakery to learn more.