There are so many different ways to take your coffee with seemingly endless flavors to choose from, so when you are looking to decide which one to try.
In terms of coffee beans themselves, flavor refers to the tasting notes that the beans give off all on their own. In order to determine the flavor of your coffee, it helps to take both the aromatic scents and the actual tastes into consideration. Strength of the coffee flavor will also become relevant when comparing hot and iced coffee along side cold brew. So, without adding anything to your coffee beans, what tastes are most prominent to you?
Everybody’s taste buds respond differently, so a coffee bean that tastes like tart cherries might be satisfying to one person but less-than-appealing to someone else. Your preferences depend on how you experience a taste, whereas the individual flavors of coffee beans tend to hold true from person to person, even if someone isn’t the biggest fan of the flavor.
Whether a coffee bean blend is made of arabica beans or it is made of robusta beans is important because it becomes a deciding factor of the overall flavor of the blend. Once you become well-acquainted with different coffee beans, tasting notes, and aromas, finding blends that you love will become second nature. However, just like experts in any field, transforming into a coffee connoisseur requires practice, and the best way to start is by learning the basics!
Most Popular Coffee Tasting Note Flavors
Tasting notes are descriptive words used to identify the way a coffee bean tastes after extraction. Essentially adjectives for your coffee, tasting notes help identify the flavor that you can expect when sipping on a cup of coffee. You will often find that tasting notes are listed beneath the name on a bag of ground coffee or whole beans. Coffee growers and companies like to add tasting notes to the product’s packaging as a way of helping customers decide which bean suits their preferred taste profiles.
According to the SCAA, or the Specialty Coffee Association of America, there are nine main categories of coffee tasting notes, including...
Within each of these nine categories are even more specific terms for explaining the flavors of coffee.
So why does a tasting note matter, outside of overall flavor? While the chemistry of your cup matters, so does the way your flavors combine. It can be valuable to understand popular coffee flavors, especially ones you serve at your shop, to help you pair them with flavored syrups. While using any syrup in any old coffee works, pairing balancing aromas and tastes can produce a fantastic cup. It truly makes the difference between a good cup and an unforgettable one.
With that, the most popular beans and blends in coffee shops are Nicaraguan, Columbian, and Ethiopian. The flavor notes can change based on how the bean itself was roasted, which will, in turn, affect the syrup combinations you may use with it; however, the same principle flavor guidelines apply for each bean!
Pairing your Beans With a Syrup
Choosing syrups for your coffee shop can be overwhelming, especially when there are endless options to choose from. Whether you are working with a fruity blend or something nuttier, there is a rhyme and reason to choose one syrup over another for each coffee blend. With every flavor, there is a way to complement it through use of alike tastes, as well as ones with stark differences that blend well with the undertones within your coffee.
Nicaraguan coffee tends to have floral, citrus, and chocolate flavors. These initially may not seem like the ideal marriage, but anyone who has had a good cup of this coffee knows there are few better things in this world.
SAFE: We recommend using something with a similar taste, such as caramel sauces and syrups. This will give it added sweetness and nuttiness, balancing out the spectrum of flavors.
DARING: Looking to shake things up a bit? Try adding banana syrup to your next Nicaraguan blend latte to create an inviting experience that plays on both the sweetness of the chocolate and the fruitiness of the citrus undertones.
Whether a light or dark roast, Columbian beans tend to retain a cocoa-like flavor. It’s also noted for its thickness when brewed, and is sometimes referred to as “ink water.”
SAFE: Play off the existing cocoa notes by using chocolate sauces and syrups. This will make for a rich, full taste. Hazelnut syrup would also be a great choice!
DARING: Choose a spice-base syrup, like ginger or pumpkin spice. The sweetness in conjunction with the flavors in those syrups will add depth to your coffee without overwhelming the palette.
Ethiopian beans tend to have a fruity, even wine-like flavor to them, giving their brews a powerful taste all on its own. Not sure what to add without overwhelming your customer?
SAFE: Try some pure cane sugar to liven up your cup! The flavor will remain “intact” while giving the drinking a little touch of sweetness.
DARING: Consider going for a blueberry syrup. The fruity undertones will be complimented without masking the strong body and taste of the existing blend.
Flavor is a science, combining both our senses of smell and taste to create a full experience. While we consider this mostly when adding spices to our chicken dinner, it should also be applied to the things we drink (especially the coffee we serve).
Brewing Up Something Better
Flavor combinations can be a complex science project to tackle, especially when you stray outside the box. As you delve into your barista abilities, consider what is popular, and maybe even what isn’t! Sometimes, even the most unlikely combinations make for a delicious drink!