Posted on 16th Jan 2013 @ 12:18 PM
The Transcend Taste Index
We tend to take the taste of things pretty seriously here at Transcend. We are coffee fanatics of course, but we also enjoy savouring and analyzing the deliciousness of many other things, be it food, wine, beer, tea or whiskey. We think taste and smell are amazing senses and ones that we often take for granted.
With that in mind we created a little tool to help our customers better compare, analyze and hopefully enjoy our coffees. We’re calling it the Transcend Taste Index, and it simply plots our perception of three different attributes (acidity, body and complexity) for a given coffee. For espresso, we are using acidity, body and sweetness as the three attributes. This index will be a prominent feature on new labels and coffee bags that we will be launching in the next few weeks.
We’ve deliberately avoided using any numbers on the index and instead opted for a visual representation. We dislike rating scales that use numbers as everyone’s perceptions and preferences are a little different.
Our hope is that by trying several different coffees, comparing the flavours and the experience and taking note of the taste index, you’ll begin to discover which attributes you like and which coffees you’ll most enjoy when we release new ones.
Let’s talk a bit more about each of the attributes on the taste index.
Acidity in coffee is one of the first things most coffee professionals look for and evaluate. It is also something that is often misunderstood by many coffee drinkers. Acidity is a good thing. It is what gives coffee life and vibrancy. It’s not going to turn your stomach sour or be unsettling in any way, unless the acidity is completely off the chart or you are extremely sensitive to it. While the preferred amount of acidity is a matter of taste, some acidity is required for quality coffee. Coffee without acidity is like soda without fizz or food cooked with zero salt.
You can recognize acidity by how your mouth reacts to it. It will make you salivate and may even have an effervescent or lightly carbonated feel. Lemon juice is highly acidic of course and dry white wine is also often acidic.
At Transcend we personally tend to enjoy coffees that are higher on the acidity scale, but will always offer coffees with medium or lower acidity to balance the spectrum of coffees we offer.
Body in coffee is what we would describe as mouthfeel. Heavier body in coffee can make it feel more luxurious or smooth or velvety in your mouth. It adds to the overall tasting experience and can often increase the perception of quality.
We tend to think about body in beverages in relation to milk. Does the coffee (or other beverage) in your mouth have the feel and consistency of skim milk, or heavy cream, or is it somewhere in between?
Complexity is all about the flavours and aromas we are experiencing. Aroma is really important here. Is the coffee dominated by one basic flavour or aroma like chocolate or nut, or are there subtle notes of fruits and florals that mingle and provide a deep, intriguing taste experience? Does the last sip taste and smell the same as the first, or do the flavours change and evolve as the cup cools? Does the coffee taste good when it’s hot and when it’s cool? These are some of the questions we ask ourselves when evaluating complexity.
Does this mean coffees that are lower on one attribute are of poor quality?
No, absolutely not. We ensure that all of our coffees are of amazing quality. Some coffees that are lighter bodied or lower in acidity can be truly extraordinary. It all comes down to personal taste, and this index is meant as a tool to help you identify what your personal tastes are.
We hope you find the taste index useful, and as always, we’d love to know what you think or answer your questions. Feel free to post a comment or send us an email.
Posted by James Schutz, Transcend Coffee.