Trying to work on a tasting lab for new baristas. I am hoping to put together a “kit” of flavors to showcase overextracted coffees vs under. This would include flavors that showcase the difference between good acidity and bad acidity. Bitterness, saltiness, sweet fruits, etc. When I was young I worked in kitchens and developed my palate there, but I am finding that a lot of new baristas are unfamiliar with a variety of flavors.
Any recommendations? I’m thinking definitely grabbing some organic acids, but where do I go from there?
I want to de-mystify the tasting process that intimidates a lot of the new baristas. When we are learning to dial in they just seem so intimidated by the unfamiliar that they can;t get out of their own head.
Hey there, sounds great!
Over-extracted : Caffeine Power Diluted with water, quinine ie. India Tonic Water - in both cases there is a delayed aftertaste which is bitter. I find grapefruit useful it exhibits sweet, sour and bitter, the bitterness being quite similar to over-extraction.
You could do the tasting you have planned above first and then follow by tasting espresso of the same coffee with exact same dose and only adjust grind to decrease / increase extraction. This is more relevant to the coffee itself rather than food items, although the food items are useful as a benchmark for sweet, sour, salt, bitter.
Serve a perfectly (prepped in advance) dialed in espresso to a set dose and yield which exhibits the balance of flavour you expect, then maintain dose and have your attendees adjust grind courser to a set point to exact the same in <15 secs to taste under-extracted, then have them move grind to a finder grind to a set point with the same dose/yield taste over-extracted.
Try the above out in advance with your coffee as all coffees tend to follow a pattern but the results to vary.
Baby steps… if your team are intimidated then you are giving them something to work with and then you can revisit with more advanced concepts after they apply it to their experience on the bar.
There’s a company called FlavorActiv who have produced a kit alongside World Coffee Research. The kit’s quite pricey, but all the hard work is done for you.