Coffee Tasting How-to’s: Perfecting the Coffee Slurp

If you’ve ever been out to the Bean Hanger for a tour or cupping session, there’s a very good chance you’ve met our resident Bean Hunter, Paul Massard. And if you’ve met Paul, you’ve probably also encountered his famous coffee “slurp”. No, it’s not that Paul has poor manners—his loud, whistle-like slurp is the best way to taste coffee!

What is this loud, obnoxious slurp all about?

When it comes to tasting coffee during a cupping session, sipping different brews just doesn’t get the job done. When you sip coffee, the coffee enters your mouth and generally hits the front of your tongue, then the back of your tongue and then you eventually swallow it.  This poor technique does not incorporate all of the senses.

There’s much more to coffee tasting than taking a few sips.  In fact, coffee tasting is a lot like wine tasting.

The Proper Coffee Tasting Technique:

  1. Observe the overall appearance of the coffee: Take note of the color and viscosity of the coffee you are about to taste.
  2. Smell the coffee:  What you smell is the biggest indicator of what you taste (it’s even more important than your taste buds!). To cleanse our nostrils in between varieties, we smell our skin because that helps neutralize the aromas so we can differentiate between them. Roasterie Fun Fact: When purchasing cologne or perfume, bring some black coffee along.  The base smell of coffee is intense and will cleanse your nose palate.
  3. Slurp: The louder, the better!!  Paul’s slurp truly “breaks the sound barrier”. He really has perfected the coffee slurp. Slurping loudly means you are sucking the coffee in with such velocity that it is aerated and sprayed across your entire palate. This is just like aerating wine— except this time, your mouth is the decanter. Aerating also allows your nose to get in on the action. Aeration allows coffee aromas to pass by the soft palate and travel up into your nose. When inside your nose, aromas interact with your nasal receptors. The data from your nose and tongue are then sent to the brain. From there, your brain acts like a super-computer and deciphers the signals to create what we perceive as taste.

So the next time you visit the Bean Hangar and hear a sharp whistle from the cupping room, don’t be alarmed!  It’s just our Q Grader tasting some of the best brews in the world.  And don’t be afraid to slurp your coffee every now and then too!  If someone asks you, “where are your manners?”, simply reply with your newfound coffee knowledge.