We are serving a very nice espresso this week. Single origin Honduras Santa Barbara, washed caturra and catuai. Candied apple, walnut and cacao in a shot, hazelnut, butterscotch and cacao in cappuccino.
Very nice espresso, clean, balanced, sweet, complex enough to enjoy but not to get confused, espresso that makes me proud to serve it.
Sour. Sour. Sour. One guy, that in coffee for a year, came and told me it he doesn’t expect to find the acidity of Ethiopia in Honduras. Let’s leave this case aside, though, cause I don’t understand what is in his opinion the “acidity of Ethiopia”.
But the overall perception is “sour”.
I can understand some reasons, but not all of them. First, this is the opinion of Portuguese people, not foreigners. Yes, for them it is sour, because they expect to find here the same coffee they drink in any other place – overroasted bitter robusta, that they drink fast as if it were medicine, adding sugar. Drink fast that kind of espresso that we serve, and you’ll get a punch of acidity right in the face. Don’t let it stay in your mouth or drink water right away – and it will seem even more acid. So, here we have two different ways of enjoying an espresso, and one doesn’t work with the specialty.
The second, we are still not doing coffee education. Not talking about the expected taste, not having brochures to explain what to expect and how to enjoy, and what’s the difference.
Ok, it’s understandable.
What I’m curious about, is why coffee that is undoubtedly more sweet, and at the same time acidic, as a good apple – creates such a negative response? We are able to drink a lemonade, to eat an orange, to eat a green apple, tonic water – but in coffee we prefer to have that bitter rubber taste? Is it all about the habit? Or is something deeper?
I have a friend, she understands in coffee, and she prefers her espresso slightly bitter, like a good digestive. Why?
I, personally, never was a coffee drinker before I entered specialty. Why? Cause I hated that bitter and burnt taste. Always added lots of sugar and milk, to create some sort of drinkable thing.
I came to an understanding, that people with more developed palate, that like to taste, to try different food, that are more open to the experiments and, that’s important, to their sensations – they manage to enjoy acidity in coffee. It is easier for them to accept it. Also people who are tasters because of their profession, or dedication – like chefs, sommeliers, whiskey specialists.
But the enigma is still here.
Why acidity of a balanced washed Central American coffee is being hated?
What can we do to change it?
Do we, coffee professionals, have the right to insist on our clients learning to appreciate acidity in coffee? Or should we go with their taste, and accept that some people just like it bitter?