Brian Shrader's Siteseeing Blog

Coffee Tasting

Posted June 21, 2007
Updated June 22, 2007

I just got back from a coffee tasting at the Starbucks on Peace Street in Raleigh.

I have to preface all of this with the fact that I really don't like coffee at all.  I don't like hot drinks, in general -- hot chocolate, hot tea, boiling Jell-o water before it sets.  I don't like a drink I can't consume in big gulps. 

Hence, the magic of coffee, the spell it has cast on millions of people, has passed by me.  It also made the tasting event an unusual experience.  As someone who hasn't tried a cup of coffee in about five years (and it came from a jar), I was a blank slate. 

We tried three kinds of coffee, a Colombian coffee, one from Sulawesi (an island near Sumatra in the Pacific) and another from Yemen called Arabian Mocha Sanani.  These were pure coffees -- not blends. 

I should say that tasting coffee property does not consist of knocking back a cup of it.  No, no.  You "cup" it first, holding the coffee so your fingers capture the aromas.  Take a deep breath.  Then, you slurp it.  It's kind of a sucking slurp, spraying to coffee over your tongue.  We tasted it completely dark -- just the coffee.  No cream or sweetener to take off that edge.  The coffee coats your tongue, much like tannins in wine. 

I wish the experience hadn't been wasted on my uninitiated palate.  I only really detected varying degrees of bitterness among the coffees.  That said, each coffee did have a different taste.  I thought the Sulawesi had the boldest flavor.  I think I could detect the "herbal" notes of Arabian Mocha Sanani.

We also paired the coffee with different foods.  Walnuts went with the Colombian.   The Sulawesi coffee went with rosemary crackers, goat cheese and salami.  But the most remarkable effect was from pairing the Arabian Mocha Sanani with a dark chocolate that included a mild chili.  The coffee brought out an orange ring in the chocolate.  It was noticeable and pleasant.

They also let me make a raspberry mocha frappuccino.  I'd never had a frappuccino before (don't laugh, please), and I can see why people like it.

So, if you're a coffee drinker, you should experiment with food pairings.  I've included some links to get you started. 

I'll be up bright and early tomorrow morning, starting my day with a glass of crisp, refreshing Diet Coke. 


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  • theodore864 Jun 22, 2007

    I don't like Coffee but a Hot Chocolate on a cold day (aka snow day) is really inviting.

  • Brian Shrader Jun 22, 2007

    CricketGayle: The aroma in a coffee shop has a way of sticking with you. Now and then, I go to Third Place on Glenwood Avenue, and I return home smelling like a coffee filter.

    .Milky: Stand by.

  • .Milky Jun 22, 2007

    Brian- Is it your love for Diet Coke that prevents you from posting any of the great Diet Coke and Mentos videos or can you not post them for liability reasons?

    Also, Starbuck's was created for people who don't like coffee, which is why they don't serve any.

  • CricketGayle Jun 22, 2007

    You can add me to the non-coffee drinking population. I love the aroma of it and also love it as an ingredient (mocha flavored desserts/candies) but as a beverage, I can't stand it.

  • Brian Shrader Jun 22, 2007

    That's what I hear about wine, too -- that it's an acquired taste. It all tastes like Nyquil to me. I take a sip of wine and the hair on my arms stands up.

  • owlady Jun 22, 2007

    Coffee is an aquired taste. If you drink it enough you will begin to enjoy it. I make my own coffee at home. One cup is all I need to get going in the morning, and then I drink water the rest of the day. Hot coffee only, with milk, NO sugar.

  • Brian Shrader Jun 22, 2007

    Yeah, wilfhh29 -- I think it's you and me against the world. ;)

  • wilfhh29 Jun 22, 2007

    I don't like coffee either! It seems like that makes 2 of us in the whole world.

  • Brian Shrader Jun 22, 2007

    I'll have to try that. I was a skeptical of the whole iced coffee concept, but was pleasantly surprised.

  • TruthIsSubjective Jun 22, 2007

    The best thing from Starbucks is the iced peppermint mocha. You should have tried one :o)

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WRAL's Brian Shrader blogs about cool video clips and other interesting Web sites. If you have any video you would like to share, please let us know.