Conversation about flavors

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“All literature is not worth the smell of garlic browning in oil,” says a phrase attributed to the writer Raduan Nassar. At first glance, this statement may shock the distracted reader, but a second reading may change things a little. It is never a question of disparaging literary art; but that there is something impalpable and seductive in the aromas and flavors of food, this cannot be denied.
Imagine the smell of garlic browning in oil just before a meal, or the scent of that favorite cake in the oven, spreading around the house (I know, that phrase can cause a feeling of existential emptiness, especially in the stomach area). These are foods that we can almost taste mentally, because our olfactory memory – which, by the way, claim to be the most “competent” memory – allows us to anticipate flavors based on our previous experiences. Of course, this process also happens with coffee, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
JulianoLamur-cafe-emcasa-cupping-3- cafefonte.comCafé Fonte
I like it if you argue!
Unfortunately for the nation’s general unhappiness and discontent, it is quite common that we have very bad coffees as references of past experiences. Excessively bitter, burnt or astringent flavors (which give the feeling of “tying” the mouth) are part of the most popular coffees here, and it is good to say that perhaps these flavors should not be those that our memory has as a reference.
flavors-cafe-clement-coffee-ickfdsource: Clement Coffee
Reading a text from Tim Wendelboe the other day, I came across the following information: “For me, a delicious coffee can taste like tea, mandarin, jasmine, etc. It is certainly not very bitter and it is naturally sweet ”. [revista Espresso nº 46, p. 60] There is a lot of interesting information here. Firstly, because this phrase gives hints on how tasty a coffee can be, as there is a wide range of tastes and aromas possible in a single cup of the drink.
There are so many possibilities and they are so complex that in 1995 the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America, the leading regulator of specialty coffees in the world) decided to create a table to guide coffee tastings and develop a glossary of terms based on sensory experiences. The result was this one:
JulianLamur-cafe-emcasa-coffee-wheel-SCAASource: SCAA
Behind all this complexity, of course, are several factors such as the species of coffee and its variety of cultivation, the method used for harvesting, the processing of the fruit, the way it was roasted, and finally, everything that happened to the coffee from its origin to the cup.
Furthermore, Tim’s phrase (Wendelboe, not Maia) speaks in bitterness and sweetness, and this is where it gets even more interesting: although our language has receptors for a few basic tastes (ranging from five to eight, as far as I’ve heard), smell has a much, much larger number of molecular receptors to distinguish smells (approximately MIL, which have connections to each other and give rise to an extremely complex plot). And at the tip of this whole system that involves coffee, memory, taste, smell and much more is largely responsible for the experiences of recognition, processing and appreciation of what happens around us: our dear brain. So you can start to understand the size of the trouble.
JulianoLamur-cafe-emcasa-cupping- pinterestPinterest
If you found everything a little complicated for now, calm down. We will talk more about flavors and aromas here, because our preferences are constantly changing. To gain more experience on the subject, the simplest tip of all is worth: when in doubt, try as many coffees as you can. And if you want, write down everything you noticed. Only then is it possible to acquire references (good and not so good) and a repertoire of flavors that allows us to make the most of every detail of the coffee in our cup.
See you!

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