How to Taste Coffee



Agreed no fungus, or rot or bugs.

But maybe some degree of interest added by (small amounts of) fermentation? And also different sizes of bean and variations in ripeness. Small amounts of pleasant funkyness.

This can perhaps add to complexity???

After all you can argue the complexity of old wine is simply caused by it going off :slight_smile:


true true, yes that is exactly I meant to say.


Appreciate your input Deven :slight_smile:

And I have seen enough of it to realize that you don’t mince words = no problem.

But equally in this case I was not clear enough…


Interestingly aside about how we like funky/fermented flavours :slight_smile:

Olive oil tasters are trained to detect fermentation - which is viewed as a fault (a fermented olive oil will go off faster). However in tasting from Americas Test Kitchen the more funky (faulty) oils were preferred by all the (non-professional) tasters. So people enjoy the funky taste :slight_smile:

And of course the olives that we eat are all fermented. So I was thinking of using my centrifuge to extract ultra funky olive oil from kalamata olives.

I already made a bunch of flavoured oils using various herbs = blend herbs in olive oil then ‘fuge them to get an amazingly concentrated herb flavoured oil. OK so this is not relelevant to funkiness - but the oils are nice nevertheless.

And in a similar(?) case about peanut butter cups - a salesman was trying to sell them oxygen absorber pouches to prevent rancidity. So they did a taste test with customers - and guess what the customers preferred the (slightly) rancid flavour of the cups without the oxygen absorbers. Suffice it to say he did not make a sale…


Not too sure the preference is based on the slightly funky taste being more attractive because of complexity, maybe its just based on familiarity. We usually like something more if it is familiar, so if you usually,get slightly “funky” something, you would prefere the slight funkiness ;))


I love the funk, I just started fermenting myself. Literally and figuratively. I know some of us are are all too familiar with fermenting and I myself am no stranger but in the US our food is so sterile and packaged so “well” that it lacks that real funk. Discovering it at home has been a real revelation and I have been enjoying it immensely.

Oh man a centrifuge! What kind/brand? I am very jealous, I have been wanting one since I started learning to do the whole “gastronomic” side of cooking. yes yes, oils are nice indeed. Interesting thing about the pb cups.

@pavel I would say funk is definitely a layer attributing to complexity. I was talking to a barista and thinking about our conversations the other day and he put complexity in these terms: It is like a chorus singing, you will have high, middle and low notes all contributing and together they make the song. I like to think about it like some of Tiesto’s songs, one of the first musicians I head that made me really understood layering and complexity. But I couldn’t agree more about preference, I was not presented with funk in the cup as a positive attribute and I find it hard to like it. I didn’t like it so much at first that I blew through a ton of Sumatran to find that it had strawberries lurking in it.

Oh I forgot to mention when you posted about cupping, yea practice makes perfect but I don’t think it is the actual cupping that is affecting the taste because when you make the coffee into espresso form (and if you prefer it that way), because espresso is a concentrated form it will make flavors apparent that are actually hard to see in a cupping or other, more dilute, brewing methods.


Familiarity certainly contributes a lot to liking flavours.

I think that people liking the rancid peanut butter cups is a good example of tastes people are used to - and when they were presented with the fresher version they did not like it (not familiar). However I suspect that if they were presented with fresh cups for some time people would grow to like them (or even prefer them).

Interestingly (from what I read) in the 16th coffee used to take months of sea travel - so it got an “aged salty flavour” that people liked (got used to). When the Suez Canal was first opened (1869) much fresher coffee became available and people (initially at least) did not like it. These days the fresher coffee has definitely become the preferred (familiar) taste :slight_smile:

As far as fermented tastes go there are lot of common fermented foods that we probably don’t think of as fermented. Wine, miso, yoghurt, soy sauce (naturally brewed varieties - not the chemically cracked ones), European style butter, soft white cheese, other cheeses (cultured = similar), fish sauce, cocoa, sour cream (Creme Fraiche), pickled vegetables like sauerkraut etc, Tabasco sauce (and many other sauces), Tempeh, vinegar, kefir, kombucha. And there are 1000s more when you include less familiar fermented foods from around the world…

And of course wet process coffee :slight_smile:

So I think it is safe to say that fermentation adds complexity to flavour. Though the original motivation was simply to preserve the food.

Try a naturally fermented vs a cracked soy sauce - the natural one wins every time for me - much more subtle and complex. I have always preferred the natural ones long before I knew that they were fermented.


I don’t “prefer” funkiness - but I do like it - and IMHO it can add complexity.

And if someone/anyone dislikes fermented flavours (or any other flavour) that is fine with me. As I always say “the best wine is the one YOU like” - and the same applies to all food lavours IMHO (and if it also happens to be the cheapest one then you are lucky as you can save money). However in my experience most people do enjoy fermented flavours.

And fermentation can mute or soften unpleasantly sharp chemical flavours compared to other methods of food preparation - like natural vs chemically cracked soy sauce. Or naturally pickled veges vs vinegar pickles (which are much sharper and more acidic - but also good)

I also like really fresh flavours too, fesh strawberries and cherries yum (it is strawberry/cherry season here) :slight_smile:


I have a Spinzall the one from Dave Arnold - and amazing chef imho (very clear and analytical)

But I don’t have a car… you probably have a car…

I am jealous of Nathan Myrvhold - he has a SEM (scanning electron microscope) at home. I would like one to examine the edges of knives so I can see the specific effects of stropping as it removes the minor scratches from sharpening (the SEM pics I have seen show that it migrates metal and smooths the surface and the knife edge). I am also of the (unproven because I don’t have a SEM) opinion that stropping produces a “work hardening” effect (strain hardening is probably a better name) that strengthens the metal surface. This make the edge last much longer IMHO (= less sharpening needed). This is also similar to the reasoning behind using a steel (or strop) to align the edge of a knife (though every chef I and almost every YouTube video I have seen does it TOTALLY wrong :slight_smile: )

And another pet peeve about knife sharpening “making a burr” = bad IMHO. The reason is simple when you use the knife (or chisel etc). The usage work/strain hardens the edge - and making a burr removed this nice hardened surface you made (again I want a SEM to look at it…). Instead you should sharpen very close to your edge and preserve the hardened edge (the exception would be if you are making or remodeling a knife).

Another peeve is starting from a really coarse stone - then going progressively finer to remove the surface scratches. It looks good but it gives a less than ideal result. The issue is a metallurgical one… The coarse stone you start with actually deforms (weakens) the metal underneath each scratch it makes - and subsequent finer stones do not not remove these hidden/invisible subsurface weaknesses. The better (and much slower) way is to start with a much finer stone that makes much finer scratches (= much less subsurface deformation = much less weakness)

And it would be fun to include several SEM pictures when you sharpen a knife for someone - to show them the progression of the sharpening process (in addition to the BESS sharpness test result).

Anyway please forgive my digression/diatribe about SEMs, knives and sharpening :slight_smile:

And of course it would be nice to have a sonicator (ultrasonic homogenizer), a rotor stator blender, an ultrasonic water bath (for modernist fries etc), a Nemox Frixair (or Pacojet), Rotovap, Colour tester for coffee roasting, the list goes on :rofl::rofl:


Sure sure - fermented taste is something we are very familiar with here, as there is lot of even home fermented products that are eaten regularly in our country. But I think there is some difference of a fermentation that is used to produce some new foods (and tastes) and some slight fermentation happening by accident (Say to the olive oil) … I think I would prefere the one without it just because how much I love fresh and clean tastes. And I am not that sure that people picked that one cause it really tastes better vs cause they are quite used to olive oil that is slightly fermented.

But in coffee thats completely different story, like those naturals … but it also easily can go really really wrong. I remember a lot of beans that had either pleasant or nearly unpleasant fermented taste (thankfully due to what I buy I had not tasted one that is really bad :))

So yeah, sure it may add to complexity, though not allways in a pleasant way :smiley:


@jmuir2009 - just a question - do you also have a searzall? if yes would you recommend purchasing it? I am really interested in it but its quite complicated to get it, so … waiting for some impuls to do so :smiley:

Regarding sharpening … wohoooo …SEM for knife sharpening at home … wow … and I though I was quite extreme with my sharpening equipment :smiley: LOL … sounds great.
I think you might be right about work hardening with stroping, but my view of where it helps the most is the combination of polishing bith the facet and the edge so its more durable because its flat/polished …and also because it changes the shape of the very edge in a simillar way that a microbevel would, but it makes it rounded not a small facet. So it makes less acute but more durable edge.

Rough vs finer stone to start with - what is your recomended starting stone then? I usually start with about 250 microns when fixing problems, chips and dents and remodeling the edge, but I have no problems starting way higher when I do not see edge damage /though this seldom happens/ - but where to start´then ? 50microns? - I usually end at 0,5microns.


Yes I agree about the fermentation :slight_smile:

And sometimes (often) I just talk too much…


I am happy with my searzall. I would definitely buy another I use it a lot - because it is very quick and easy - though not the best result… Easy enough to buy now, but you need the torch and gas bottle. I am happy to discuss what I have if you want but probably not this forum?

But with sous vide stuff you can get a better sear with greater Maillard effect using other methods. Though the searzall is quick and easy - great for duck, goose and chicken legs (but will not crisp pork crackling or duck breast skin)

Chill, dry and then use cast iron pan for example (food reheats in pan - need to be careful to not overheat), also grill is good, or simply a grill starter chimney (very hot). These methods should also crisp duck and pork skin.

You can also pour hot oil over pork to make crackling the skin (but do it carefully - hot oil is dangerous)

And talking too much again


Hmm … using both iron pan or very very hot grill at the moment (I like the crazy hot grill best :slight_smile: I just make it go above 300 and its nice and fast) so maybe I will not go for searzall … I though it might give better more controlled results.


To be clear I do not have a SEM at home - Nathan Myrhvold does :slight_smile:

Yes people often say the stropping is often used to give a more rounded edge - sort of like a radiused micro-micro-bevel (we need the SEM to confirm :wink: ).

The migration of metal to the edge from stropping (and the work hardening) should also work equally well on a microbevel. Though it may also reduce the need for a micro-bevel???


Understood :slight_smile: its just nice to know there are people way more crazy when it comes to knife sharpening - most of the people start looking in a strange way at me when I say I use microscopes for this and a sequence of about 10 stones/strops :smiley: but having a SEM is a completely different level.

Btw - reagrding deformation of steel during coarse grit phase - not too sure about it, or better not sure it applies to my case - I am using only diamond stones, and you use very little pressure with them … so I think as the contact area is quite large and the pressure very small … its will be almost only cuting and not deformation … but … I may be wrong, I need a SEM to check this :smiley: yeehaaa :smiley:


Pretty sure the grill and pan are better :slight_smile:

Using hot oil in a pan on a (chilled) sous vide duck breast does a really good job (should work for pork too).


I would think that the deformation does apply. If you look at the surface under your microscope and see scratches from the coarsest stone… Then it will pretty much confirm that (imho). However this issue mainly affects edge durability rather than sharpness.

I can hunt around and share articles - but this is meant to be about coffee…


Sure … I was just happy to see another sharpening enthusiast, but sure it would be better to continue somewhere else :slight_smile: if you want to of cause …


Yea we should move this to another thread to talk about “random” stuff. But the searzall is good and easy to use, you might want to air dry your bird overnight or just pat dry really well before you start searing. You should also poke holes in the skin of the bird and that helps with the frying. But I think the single most important for a really crispy crust is brining at least 1-3 nights depending on the size (3nights for a whole turkey, but you can do a chicken 3 days no problem) and drying in the fridge for 1 day/night. And then use the oil method, as Dave Arnold says “it’s God’s preferred way of cooking meat” (not an exact quote).

As for sharpening I have Jnats and japanese synthetics, I use my DMT (course) to set a bevel but I really need a new one. @jmuir2009 I don’t buy into the whole weakening/strengthening of the metal, at least to the fact that it will really effect the hardness of the metal, the edge is a little complicated obviously but overall the metal composition and original forging in general makes the real difference, unless you put your knives in the dishwasher which exposes them to very hot temperatures, in which case yes it will. But not when it comes to sharpening, for me (unfounded claimes**) is just how even I am when sharpening. Also my cutting technique is very gentle and I never whack on the board. For the few times I do, I use a very thick chopper with a very short bevel at a very high angle something like 25-30 degrees.

I’ll make a thread called Random Discussions and we can continue there…(here) Random Discussions - Food and Kitchen