Coffee Reflections

A career in coffee. How does this sound to you? In many countries it even doesn’t  exist. I mean, what exactly is it? Just making coffee? How can this be a career?

In many consuming countries a “coffee career” means just working at a cafè as waiting staff and that’s it. There is no such a thing as a career in coffee, the word barista doesn’t exist too. The person responsible for the coffee drinks is also responsible Read More



In July I posted something about Coffee Expectations and introducing specialty coffee to the average coffee drinker. Back then I already mentioned Tracy Ging, since she presents results of series of studies regarding coffee drinkers. Now I’m going to mention her again, because I have a few thoughts on the video above, which is from this year’s  Symposium of the SCAA. Ms Ging continues to dig deep into customers’ behavior and purchasing motivators. In this video she continues talking about the same study and about the next phase that they are in at the moment. I am going to summarize some of the study’s findings and add some comments.

Maybe nobody will be surprised when I say that very little people know what specialty coffee is. But we knew this already…what we didn’t know (or at least wasn’t academically proven by now) is that younger people are the ones who are shaping the coffee industry. Drinkers below 35 are more likely to drink coffee away from home, they are having higher quality expectations and are gaining far more exposure compared to the older segment of drinkers. Exposure. The younger ones are going out more frequently, try different brands, different cafés, different coffee beverages. And for them the definition of coffee is not just brewed coffee but it is also the espresso based beverages – hot, iced, frozen and so on. Coffee is being treated as a cocktail. Technically speaking it is incorrect to consider espresso based beverages as coffee, but adding ingredients to the brew such as milk, sugar or even water has been a regular practice since ages so it is a bit pointless to change history.  Another shocking discovery would be that

coffee quality overall seems less and less defined by the coffee quality itself

Yes. It’s more about what goes in the beverage, “the build” not “the bean”.  Price doesn’t matter so much but the bean type or its origin are not of that importance also. I don’t want to agree here, but who am I to talk when I’m not in neither one of the two categories, nor I am in the US where the study has been conducted.

I’m getting tired…the whole topic of specialty coffee is such a game of words. Watch the video and tell me what you thing about it…






Coffee is very complex in chemical composition and flavor. More than 400 organic and inorganic chemical compounds are present in the coffee bean and not one can be regarded as the primary component in it’s flavor. And not only that, but then every human palate responds in a unique way to sensations of aroma and taste.

Imagine a coffee competition with many judges. It is a normal practice before an event like this the judges to have a calibration. What they do actually is making sure they evaluate every coffee the same way, but also that every judge is giving the right name to each flavor. Otherwise, as you can imagine, their scoring sheets would be quite different from one another and wouldn’t make sense. This is their way of deciding what tastes like what.

When we speak about life though, there is no calibration. And from there comes the problem, how do you know what are you tasting? Is it sour? Is it bitter? How do you know that what you’re sensing on your palate is the same as what others are sensing? That you’re talking about the same thing?

You don’t. You assume you know.

When you’re younger you tend to mimic your parents, your siblings, you develop your taste, but many of us don’t go very far in that. Yes, there are the so called super tasters and non-tasters and average tasters (some people have more tastebuds than others), but in everyday life it comes to if you like it or not. And that’s it. Taste is rarely discussed. Then you start cupping coffee, you start listening how the experienced cuppers discuss its acidity, sweetness, mouthfeel and you cannot help it but feel dumb. To you coffee it is just bitter and yet you haven’t heard them saying anything about that. But again, do you know what bitter is? That’s how it all starts.

Welcome to Tasting intelligence, the blogpost series where we’ll calibrate together 🙂