This One’s For The Coffee Lovers
How to create your very own coffee tasting at home
Being a longtime coffee drinker, the Nespresso Essenza Mini has been a staple in our office for quite some time. So when Nespresso announced the launch of their new Master Origin coffee range, and invited me along to experience a tasting and sensory meal experience, I was so excited to sample the new blends and see what they had in store for us.
After our lovely tasting experience, we sat down for dinner featuring an incredible bespoke menu by chef Mike McEnearney. From soufflé to fish, a vegan roast, a cacao avocado mousse and the most delicious spiced madeleines, the menu was inspired by the Master Origin range and complemented the coffee perfectly.
The Master Origin range features seven new single-origin coffees sourced from six different locations around the world (just try to choose a favourite!), and all produced using sustainable farming practices. With a variety of intensities to suit all palates, you can make your way from a delicate and fruity coffee with notes of orange blossom (Ethiopia), to a rich and velvety blend with woody notes of cured tobacco (Indonesia).
Feel like a coffee now? Well, we have some good news for you! We caught up with Nespresso Coffee Ambassador Mitch Monaghan to help you recreate the coffee tasting experience for yourself at home.
What’s the secret to a good coffee tasting?
The actual extraction process can make or break a coffee tasting. If you have an Original Nespresso machine, check that you are extracting the recommended cup size for your chosen coffee comparisons – either a 40 ml Espresso or a 110 ml Lungo. If you’re a Nespresso VERTUO coffee drinker, the machine will do the work for you through its one-touch barcode reading technology.
What are three ways to elevate an at-home coffee tasting?
- Compare at least two coffees at the same time. This really allows you to taste the differences between the cups. Our new Master Origin range features seven different coffees, from six different countries of origin, each with their own distinct notes and aromas that have been developed through their various processing techniques.
- Taste like a pro. First, swirl the coffee in the cup to break the crema and release the aromas, then bring the cup close to your nose to take in all the nuances in the cup. Then for my favourite part, take a large slurp to disperse the coffee across your taste buds evenly. This will help you to detect the varying characteristics of the coffee from acidity, bitterness, body and all the flavours – just like a wine tasting.
- Use a coffee tasting cup. Nespresso offers a range of Reveal glasses (in both Espresso and Lungo size) designed especially to enhance the tasting experience. Each cup has been created to provide you with a tailored experience for your chosen coffee.
What food should you serve for a coffee tasting?
Firstly, I’d cleanse the palate with some sparkling water and a water cracker. Then I’d recommend serving food that enhances the hero notes of your coffee. For example, our Master Origin Nicaragua has sweet cereal notes due to its “black-honey” processing method. To complement this, I would recommend enjoying this with something like an ANZAC biscuit. For our Master Origin Colombia with the intense fruity notes, I’d suggest dark chocolate and raspberries.
What are the biggest coffee tasting no-nos?
- Leaving your coffee for more than a minute before tasting. It’s best to taste your coffee straight away, so you can enjoy the freshly extracted coffee with the crema and the full fragrance.
- Eating or applying make-up/perfume before tasting, it is best to wait at least 30 minutes after applying any make up, perfume, cologne or eating. As humans, we have some incredible senses and we want those to be clear and ready for the tasting experience to avoid any other strong fragrances or tastes.
- Adding milk or sweeteners. Whilst milk and sugar can be a great way to release new flavours from a coffee, it is best to understand the coffee’s character in its purest form before enjoying your favourite recipe. Once you’ve tasted it black, I would encourage you to add milk and see how the profile evolves.
Who would you invite to your dream coffee tasting?
It would be quite a large group to be honest, because I love what I do and I’d be so excited to share what I am so passionate about and hear the opinions of others as well.
I’d start with the first coffee farmer I ever met in Costa Rica named Don Fernandez, one of our brilliant chef ambassadors Tetsuya Wakuda, Marc Jacobs because he is my favourite designer and my closest friends and family. To cap it off, I couldn’t go past having George Clooney there himself – 7 years in the making…
What are the biggest misconceptions about coffee tastings?
- The more intense a coffee is, the more caffeine it has in it. A lot of people assume that a higher intensity means that the coffee has a higher concentration of caffeine. In fact, intensity is determined by the country of origin, bean type, roast and ground, each of these elements contribute to give the coffee intensity.
- There’s a right and wrong way to interpret the notes. We all have a unique sensory palate which will impact how we experience each coffee, its notes and aromas.
- A coffee tasting takes a long time and a lot of skill. Any coffee lover can easily enjoy an at-home coffee tasting – just follow my tips above!
Created in Collaboration with Nespresso
Photography Rohan Peterson