Coffee is so much more than just that magical pick-me-up that puts a pep in your step. There are dozens of different varieties – all with different tastes, flavors and characteristics.
Looking for something new to break up your daily routine of that same cup of coffee? Find the best brew for your unique palette with this coffee tasting guide.
Start With the Roast
If you’re in search of a new coffee, the best place to begin is with the roast according to Tammy Rostov, owner of Rostov’s Coffee & Tea in Richmond, Virginia.
“Even if you have the best coffee, a poor roast can completely alter the taste,” explains Rostov. “Under roasted will not reveal all of the true flavors. Over roast and you can get a burnt taste.”
Roasts can be broken down into three basic categories at Rostov’s: Full City, Viennese and French. “As coffee beans are roasted, they go through cycles of popping or cracking,” says Rostov. “As you roast the bean and force out its natural oils and moisture, they open up and release those amazing flavors.”
Coffee that has only been roasted to the first “cracking” can be found in the Full City roast. This roast is characterized by a smooth and subtle flavor, and an even brown colored bean.
“Since a Full City is lightly roasted, you can taste all of the notes of the beans like sweet, salty or sour,” says Rostov. If you like lighter roasts, she recommends also trying their Honduran Fair Trade Organic coffee with notes of caramel.
At the second cracking, roasts are the Viennese type. With a longer roasting time, natural oils are coaxed out of the beans. These coffees are darker in color and have a deeper, more intense taste.
French roasts are coffees that have been brought to the end of the cracking cycle. This means they’re even darker and have extracted all of the natural oils and moisture out of the bean. “French roasts mute the coffee’s natural acidity, and are often more bittersweet or smoky,” says Rostov.
Explore Beans From Around the World
Coffee is grown across the world in between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer in a limited equatorial zone. It will not grow outside of this zone. “It has specific tastes based on a number of factors, including the country where it’s grown, the altitude, the yearly rainfall, soil conditions, temperature at night and of course the type of coffee tree species” says Rostov.
If you like brighter or citrus flavors, for example, you might like an African coffee from Kenya or Ethiopia. But if nutty or chocolate flavors are more your style, you’ll probably like a coffee grown in Indonesia better. Central American coffees, on the other hand, tend to have earthier notes.
Do a Taste Test
That is the best way to know if you like a coffee? Of course the answer is, taste it. While it may seem easier to stick with the same roast you’ve grown accustomed to loving, you could be missing out on a whole world of new coffees and flavors.
In fact, according to the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s flavor wheel, there are 110 distinct flavors – from pineapple to caramel – to enjoy in your coffee mug.
The Coffee Tasters Flavor Wheel, is a collaborative effort by the Specialty Coffee Association of America and World Coffee Research, it is a tool for the coffee taster and provides a great benefit to those who seek to analyze and describe their coffees.
Rostov says you should try new coffees the way you normally drink your coffee. “Don’t be bullied into trying it black, if you’re a milk and sugar person. Remember, you’re the one that has to like it.”
Ask a Coffee Expert
If you’re a first-time coffee drinker, or just overwhelmed by the number of choices, talk to a local coffee expert like the team at Rostov’s Coffee & Tea in Richmond, Virginia.
With more than 60 freshly roasted varieties at Rostov’s Coffee & Tea, you’re sure to find a coffee (or two, or three!) that pleases your taste buds. And friendly staff members are always there to help you explore.
We really want to help people discover the joy of new coffees and find what they like,” says Rostov. “We’ve tasted all of coffees ourselves, so we can help steer you towards the best ones for you.”
Visit the shop with a full-service coffee bar to order drip-brewed coffees, espresso beverages or cold brew ice coffees. Taste test new flavors or simply sit and chat with friends in the store or outside.
For more information, contact Rostov’s Coffee & Tea in Richmond, Virginia at 804-355-1955 or stop in and taste for yourself at 1618 W Main St.