Tasting and Palette Expansion

Tasting and Palette Expansion

August 29, 2015
Cartel Staff
Educational Series

Often times, consumers feel overwhelmed when it comes to specialty coffee.  Usually, the menus are fairly straight forward.  With that, however, comes a slight lack of written information. Maybe this inspires a barista to verbally fill in the blanks with long list of strange-sounding names, words for describing a drink that you have never heard before, or even the suggestion that it tastes “Just like plums and chocolate!” Taking what your barista might say with seriousness is important in growing to really understand common terminology and taste preferences.  However, there is always room to drink what you like.


Although the flavor profile that you tend toward is sweet and creamy consider trying the coffee by itself. If you have a daily batch coffee, ask what it is and what the general tasting notes should be.  Ask to find a middle ground, your barista will help you find what you are looking for.

What a barista is looking for in a  “good cup” can vastly differ from your preference. Although it might not initially be what you were expecting or wanted, see what type of experience you have have. In specialty coffee, there is a lot of time and energy put into the roasting, brewing, and service of coffee that might seem simple from the outside. However, your barista also finds value in what she/he tastes. Also know that these types of flavors are what she/he experience more regularly, they are more used to them and have developed their palate to prefer certain flavors, textile experience.


Those who work with coffee on a daily basis have exponentially more opportunity to build a bank of words to describe what they are tasting and they have a larger range of experience in the types of coffee they are tasting. Keeping this in mind, a consumer with less access will tend to veer toward sweetened drinks. This is not a bad thing! You like what you like. However, if you have the desire to enjoy coffees in their most basic brewed state, start that conversation with your barista.  The chances that he or she will have something that you may like, that could surprise you, are good.

This article was originally written by Drew Scharnitzke.