The Coffee Wheel of Flavors

If you’re a girl, you probably have a ‘Wedding’ board on Pinterest. If you’re a guy, you probably have no idea what Pinterest is. And if you’re me, you have a ‘Coffeeshop’ board on Pinterest. Those of you who know me will know that I have two dream jobs. Dreams are fragile, so we shall not name them here. But after these two I have a few fun ‘Plan C’ type job ‘options’, one of which is to own a coffeeshop! I have given this a lot of thought – from the art on the walls, to the color scheme, to the sandwiches, to the baked goods (German, duh). What did I forget? The coffee! So when Gemma of the Brew Shop told me I can come to a coffee tasting lesson, I said yes on the spot.

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As I am first to the scene at 6pm on Sunday evening, I sit on the wooden bench inside and cuddle Gemma’s dog Gracie. I look around me – on my left there is a record player playing soulful coffeeshop music. On my right there is a fridge where cold brew coffee is being made over a span of 24 hours. In front of me is Gemma – dancing behind the counter and balancing filters, coffee beans, and a flavor platter of dark chocolate, cherries, tomatoes and citrus fruits.

After my fellow five students gradually trickle into the shop, Gracie (the dog) and I suddenly jerk upright. There is a new smell, and it fills this small, warm space in no time. “this is a varietal from Panama called Geisha,” we are told as the air is suffused with jasmine, lemon, and a hint of hazelnut. If that last sentence sounds like gibberish to you, you’re in good company. And yet this exercise is surprisinglythumb_IMG_0570_1024.jpg fun. We learn about the altitude beans grow on (the higher the better); the outside temperature (the lower the better), the continents and countries (they differ greatly); and THE TASTOR’s FLAVOR WHEEL, my favorite part.

My childhood memories often center around scents… on top of that, I’m a visual learner, and so the wheel of flavors diagram is a dream come true. Did you know your coffee can taste of raisins, liquorice, pomegranate, snow peas, bread, almond, or pear?

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There are a few moments in the 2-hour class where I really wish a friend were here so we could grin about all this, such as when Gemma says “this coffee tastes inoffensive,” or when I find out that my mouth has a roof (“now swirl the spoonful of coffee around up to the roof of your mouth”). Mostly though, I am thankful to have had this personal experience. Am I a natural? No. Am I a Coffee-Snob? Yes.

As I skip up the shop’s steps at the end of the session, I re-consider my “Plan C” career options. A coffeeshop is tempting for sure, but so is being the manager of Schalke 04, my football team. And knowing myself, I think it would be easier to sign good football players, than to find good coffee beans.

 

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