Myself, Jamie and Kevin from Aroma Thyme Bistro traveled to LaBean Coffee Roasting headquarters in Philipsort NY, just a few miles down the road for a crash coarse in the finer points of quality environmentally friendly gourmet coffee. LaBean Coffee set up shop in May of this year, and is already bursting with more customers than they can shake a coffee grinder at! After our trip and tour we know why; it’s all about the perfect cup of coffee.
We have always served Fair Trade & Organic coffee at Aroma Thyme, and will continue to work with suppliers that meet those high standards. We also want to embrace the slow foods concept, and thus were looking into a more local roaster, and LaBean seems to fit the bill.
We showed up at 10:15 AM to a spotless coffee roasting plant with all sorts of the latest coffee making gadgets, and the delicious smell of fresh coffee beans in the roaster. This place is a FAO SCHWARZ toy store for the coffee aficionado in your life.
First up in this coffee adventure was a tour of the high tech machinery at LaBean, followed by a very intense lesson on the coffee bean itself. Who knew there was that much to know about the coffee bean?
After our education on the coffee bean we tasted four different coffees, each of them unique and tasty. The coffee tasting included two blends and two single destination coffees. The blends each had three different beans in them that were roasted to different levels to develop flavors that complement each other. After two hours of intense tasting we had gained a different view on, and a new appreciation for coffee. With the help and guidance of LaBean’s experts we are going to kick off a new coffee program here at Aroma Thyme. We will still be serving Fair Trade and Organic coffees, but will be upgrading both our coffee and the equipment used to brew it. We are even contemplating the addition of a fine French press coffee to our menu.
Here are some tasting guidlines from "How To Be a Beverage Snob"
While you are tasting the coffee, here are the major characteristics you should be paying attention to:
Acidity - The sensation of dryness in the back and under the edges of your mouth. This is a desirable quality and not to be confused with sour (which is considered a bad quality of coffee). Acidity creates a lively, bright taste which without it, the coffee would taste flat.
Aroma – Without aroma, we could only taste sweet, sour, bitter and salty. This is where we get the subtle differences such as floral, nutty or fruity.
Body – The way the coffee feels in your mouth, its viscosity or heaviness. The best way to describe it is the comparison to how whole milk feels in your mouth compared to water. If you are unsure as to the level of body in the different coffees, add an equal amount of milk to each one and the one with the heavier body will retain more of its flavor when diluted.
Flavor – This is the overall perception of the three characteristics above. Flavor can be rich (full bodied), complex (multi-flavored), or balanced (no one characteristic over powers the other.
Here are some terms used to describe DESIRABLE flavor qualities:
Bright or dry – highly acidic leaving a dry aftertaste
Caramelly – caramel like or syrupy
Chocolaty – aftertaste similar to unsweetened chocolate or vanilla
Earthy – a soily-like quality (sometimes unfavorable)
Fragrant – an aroma ranging from floral to nutty to spicy, etc.
Fruity – having a citrus or berry scent
Mellow – a smooth taste lacking acidity but not flat
Nutty – similar to roasted nuts
Spicy – an exotic aroma of various spices
Sweet – a lack of harshness
Wild – a gamey flavor rarely, but sometimes considered favorable
Winy – aftertaste resembling a mature wine
Here are some terms used to describe UNDESIRABLE flavor qualities:
Bitter – aftertaste perceived on the back of the tongue
Bland – neutral in flavor
Carbony – burnt charcoal flavors
Earthy – a musty, soily-like quality
Flat – lacking aroma, acidity, and aftertaste
Grassy – aroma and taste of grass
Harsh – a caustic, raspy quality
Muddy – thick and flat
Musty – slightly stuffy smell (sometimes desirable in aged coffees)
Rubbery – a smell of burnt rubber
Sour – a tart flavor such as unripe fruit
Turpeny – a flavor resembling turpentine
Watery – a lack of body
Wild – a gamey flavor