I love coffee. Specialty coffee, in particular.
For those of you who are not familiar, specialty coffees are single-origin coffees that score 80 points and above on a 100-point scale. Q-graders are industry professionals that grade these coffees by way of cupping, a ritual of tasting coffee in which its attributes are examined, such as fragrance/aroma, acidity, body, sweetness, flavor and balance.
The origins of coffee should be traced down to country, region, farm, lot and farmer. This way, you know that you truly have single-origin coffee in your hands. When two or more single-origin coffees are mixed together, this is called a blend.
Factors such as climate and soil are essential in growing coffee of good quality and sustainability. It is ideal for coffee to be grown in cooler climates (usually of high altitude) where there is enough sunlight and rainfall.
Moreover, the soil should be rich in nitrogen, minerals, and should have ample acidity. Interestingly, coffee that is grown around grain/fruit/vegetable crops are known to have more complex flavors.
Roasting the green beans is just as important in that a good balance brings out the nuances of the coffee. When roasting, acids in the coffee undergo significant chemical change. The Maillard reaction (browning) and caramelization upon roasting the coffee contribute to its overall sweetness and flavor. When roasted too light, the coffee could be too acidic. When roasted too dark, the coffee could be too bitter. Think of it like a popcorn kernel—when left in the heat too long, it burns and becomes bitter. Therefore, temperature and timing must be precise.
Having said all of this, single-origin coffees taste different from one another. The origins above are some of my recent favorites, roasted by #YKWRoasters, Manila. If you notice, there are coffees from Africa, South America, Central America and Asia. While a lot of stereotypes can be made about coffees from these regions and what they would taste like, the fact remains that everyone should try them and make their own impressions.
When you do, please be open to trying different origins that are outside of your preference—they may just surprise you! Moreover, avoid restricting your experience by using words like “acidic” and/or “strong.” Instead, refer to the flavor wheel while tasting coffee to reinforce some of your sensory cues. Most importantly, do not forget to enjoy the process!
Still stumped? Check out our cheat sheet below for a quick flavor profile on the different bean origins available at EDSA BDG:
1. CARMEN ESTATE
Country of Origin: Panama
Tasting notes: Merlot, dark chocolate, maple syrup
2. FAZENDA CACHOEIRA
Country of Origin: Brazil
Tasting notes: Breakfast cereal, milk chocolate, caramel
Country of Origin: Ethiopia
Tasting notes: Blueberry, orange, jasmine
Country of Origin: Kenya
Tasting notes: Pineapple, plum, tamarind
5. COCOTOS ESTATE
Country of Origin: Philippines
Tasting notes: Raisin, extra dark chocolate, burnt sugar
#YKWRoasters hosts free cupping sessions at EDSA Beverage Design Studio every Wednesday at 10 a.m.
*This article originally appeared in Preview Magazine's June 2017 issue.