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Choosing coffee beans
Coffee has delicate nuances and tasting notes similar to the differences between wines. Raw green beans can be purchased washed or natural. This processing stage has a huge
effect on tasting notes. Washed coffees are usually picked younger and carefully cleaned. Naturals are left on the plant for longer so you get more variety in ripeness to the beans which adds highlights and wild flavors.
As with wines, you really need to taste coffees
side by side to detect the subtle differences between them. Comparing
the tastes of different coffees develops your awareness of taste. If you
have only ever drunk filtered drip coffee from a pot, that taste is
"coffee" to you. Try attending some cuppings and develop your own idea
of what "a good coffee" means to you.
Like wine, you want to drink the coffee at the peak of development. Unlike wine nuances which develop over years, roasted coffee beans develop to their peak over days. You do need to wait a few days after roasting to let the carbon dioxide (a byproduct of roasting) diffuse from the beans.
When a great year comes along in wine, it can be enjoyed for years. When a coffee region has a great year, it’s only at its best for a few months. That's good and bad. No yearning for months or years at the cellar door, eyeballing those bottles of Muscat you bottled last month. Roast, wait a few days and enjoy. Coffee is very Zen.