The rise of the coffee connoisseur has been sharp and overwhelming in recent years. Now, more than ever, a coffee drinker will be aware of a coffee’s origin, different roast profiles and the many and varied flavour descriptors.
From robust and powerful to light and floral, the demand for an interesting and complex cup is growing, and the need to talk about flavour with precision is increasingly important.
Established flavour profiles, based on the flavour wheel below, help us to rate the samples we are sent from coffee growers before we commit to buying a coffee. For example, natural coffee should be very fruity, while a washed yirgacheffe should be floral. If the sample doesn’t hit home, we will explore alternatives that share the same flavour profile.
It’s crucial to have a trained palate of course, but the flavour wheel gives us a frame of reference at the cupping stage.
This week, we’re going to take a look at these floral, fruity and berry flavours, offering up three alternatives: premium, affordable, and our traders’ top choice.
The type of fruit you can find in a coffee can vary considerably. You could be tasting bright raspberries and blackberries to more delicate fruits such as peach and mango. The taste can be sweet and creamy or acidic.
A specific flavour profile such as flower/fruit/berry is not limited to any particular part of the world, and in fact any single type of coffee can have attributes from different parts of the flavour wheel—for example, a Colombian Suarez may have chocolate, hazelnut, maple syrup and berry flavour notes.
However, you can expect certain flavours and characteristics from specific origins (the processing method will impact this too). Top Kenyan coffees for example, are prized for their bright acidity and juicy blackcurrant flavours.
Our top choices
Here are our top recommendations to get a full sense of what the flower/fruit/berry flavour profile can offer.
Indian Gems of Araku Natural is our pick from the premium end of the scale. The Araku Valley is in the South East of India: an area producing some incredible natural coffees, including this one. Expect notes of banana, blueberries and honey, which give it a creamy, clean taste. In contrast to the sharper, punchier Congo coffee, this is a great example of the smoother side of the fruit flavour wheel. You can read more about our field trip to the Araku Valley here.
As an affordable alternative, there is also the Congo Kivu Lake. Lake Kivu is one of the African Great Lakes, in a region where the coffee industry is gradually recovering after political unrest. The coffee from this region is very citrusy, coupled with chocolate and hints of redcurrant, giving it a strong, sweet, fruity taste.
Lastly, our favourite fruity coffee of the moment is Ethiopian Gera Farm, a perfect example of a more delicate fruity flavour. With refined notes of elderflower and lemon zest, this is a refreshing coffee, ideal for pourover brewing.
In terms of flavour, the flower/fruit/berry segment is one of the most diverse of the flavour wheel and you can be sure to find something to satisfy your senses. For the next part in the series, we’ll be recommending some nutty, caramely and chocolatey beans. Stay tuned.