There is a good chance that you don’t only drink one wine style, eat a single type of cheese, or limit yourself to snacking on one brand of chocolate.
Like all these other foods and drinks, coffee is not one homogenous product and instead comes in various forms and flavors that provide you with different sensory experiences.
If you are interested in expanding your palate, learning more about the basics of coffee, and supporting specialty coffee roasters, then read on to learn how you need to approach trying new coffee in Dubai.
1. Learn the Basics
Before you start your journey to trying new coffee in Dubai, you want to make sure you have learnt the basics.
As there are more than 800 unique aromatic compounds that comprise coffee flavors, you will be easily overwhelmed. Instead of letting that happen, begin by focusing on the five basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami (or savory).
Every time you take a sip of your coffee, you want to ask yourself which of these basic flavors it has and how much of it is present. The more comfortable you get with doing this exercise, the easier it will be to get more specific about tasting. This process is called ‘active tasting’ and aids you in thinking in a more flavor-forward way.
The more you actively taste, the more you build a mental flavor library, supplying your taste buds with more references to pull from when sampling coffee. The greater your taste library, the more natural it will be to distinguish unique qualities present in your cup.
2. Expand Your Palate
When you try different (and new) types of coffee, you provide yourself with the opportunity to develop and expand your palate. And, the more you taste, the better you will be able to distinguish which features of a cup of coffee you like and what isn’t for you.
While it may seem overwhelming at first, keep in mind that being able to taste coffee is a learned skill, so no matter where you are now, you will be able to develop an excellent palate; it just takes practice.
In fact, you will not be able to thoroughly learn how to taste coffee until you experience a wide array of coffees from diverse regions and roasters. It is only by drinking a lot of coffee from different origins and roasters that you will be able to differentiate between the extensive range of profiles and flavors. Therefore, you must open yourself up to expand your palette.
If you are serious about expanding your coffee palette, then (in addition to just drinking lots of coffee), you want to make sure that you are experiencing various other flavors in your daily life for starters. After all, you aren’t going to be able to recognize a flavor profile in your cup of coffee if you haven’t tried it before. Accordingly, those individuals with a highly-sensitive palette also tend to be familiar with a wide range of flavors. Keep in mind that many of the common types of notes found in coffee are fruit-based, so they are one of the best types of foods to get acquainted with.
3. Keep a Tasting Journal
It takes time to build a palette that can easily determine the variety of flavor and aroma in coffee. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you opt to have a tasting journal where you keep track of all the different coffees you have tasted and the flavors you have unearthed in them. Translating what you are sensing into words will significantly help you improve your palette and help you think more deeply about the flavors.
When buying coffee beans from specialty coffee roasters, you can expect descriptors to be included on all of the bags. As they help guide you, these descriptors are an excellent tool to help you develop your palate and encourage you to feel more confident in your taste buds.
In your journal, you can write down the facts of the coffee (to look back on as your palette grows), as well as original descriptions of the coffee colour, the taste, the brewing style, and the context surrounding the cup of coffee.
When you look back, you will be so happy that you maintained a history of your tasting journey. Not only will it transport you back to each cup of coffee, but it can also work as a record of how far you have come.
4. Always Buy from Specialty Coffee Roasters
No matter how adventurous you get with your palette or how many different variations you do (or don’t) try, the most important thing is that you always purchase high-quality coffee beans. After all, the bean’s quality is going to play a significant role in whether or not you like your cup of joe.
First and foremost, your daily coffee shouldn’t be regarded as a bitter, energy-filled necessity, but rather as an affordable luxury or an artisan experience that you get to have on a regular basis. You’ll be assured of having the the crème de la crème of what is on the market by purchasing the high-quality coffee beans.
Furthermore, by purchasing from a specialty coffee roaster who prioritizes sustainable sourcing practices, you can be assured that your coffee beans are not only fresh and high-quality, but also ethically sourced, roasted, and sold. For this to happen, the coffee seller must work closely with all those involved in the supply chain – from the farmers to the producers, exporters to the roasters.
Ideally, you want to be purchasing your coffee beans from a specialty coffee roaster who has developed relationships with everyone throughout the supply chain and prides themselves on continuously producing exceptional coffee.
What are your current coffee habits? Are you looking to expand your palette over the next few months? If so, what type of coffee are you considering tasting first? Which specialty coffee roaster will you be purchasing from? Let us know in the comments below!
Drew Dennehy is the co-founder of THREE Coffee, one of the region’s leading specialty coffee companies, headquartered in Dubai. His passion for coffee has led to the pursuit of career opportunities around the world from New Zealand and Europe to the United Arab Emirates. Drew’s goal is to enhance coffee experiences and ensure the industry is sustainable at every level. “We will achieve this by telling the story of the farmers who make each cup possible.”