Language and Experience
Chocolatey … caramely … citrusy … Funny thing about language … the words that you use affect your thoughts. Your vocabulary affects how you experience things. And your vocabulary affects how you share those experiences. This article is about your coffee vocabulary, and how it shapes the quality of your coffee experience, and how you share that experience. Sign up for FREE 25-Page Coffee Vocabulary eBook below.
Vocabulary and Sharing
Language and Wine
There was a time when I considered people who describe wine (wine aficionados, or “sommeliers”) with flowery terms to be pretentious. You know the type: “… this wine is very oaky, with notes of butterscotch.”
And some of them may be pretentious.
But the terms they use – their vocabulary to describe wine – may have value: as I have become more experienced with the varieties of wine, I recognize the need for a vocabulary to describe what I am tasting, to describe and share my own preferences, and to understand what others are talking about when they describe a wine to me. As I learned that vocabulary I began to appreciate some of the subtleties of wines. I began to experience wine differently. And I was able to share those experiences with greater ease and clarity.
Now I think of those terms, not as pretentious, but as a sincere attempt to describe the experience of tasting wine so that others can understand the experience. You don’t necessarily need to be a pompous jerk to use the vocabulary!
Language and Coffee: Your Coffee Vocabulary
The same is true of the terms that have evolved to describe the experience of tasting different coffees – called “cupping.”
If you drink coffee, you know that there are some coffees that you dislike, some that you like, and some that you love.
You might want to explain your preferences to a friend, or describe the differences between different coffees – and there can be some huge differences.
In fact, once you have a coffee vocabulary for the coffees that you love, you can walk into any great roastery anywhere, and request something similar: An artisanal roaster will understand that coffee vocabulary.
But unless you have a vocabulary for it, your description can be lame:
“Uh, this one is really good … kinda, better than that one.”
Not very informative.
I realize that, as I learn the vocabulary for describing the sensations associated with great coffee, I actually become better equipped to experience them, too. I find myself noticing “notes” and flavor nuances that I was previously ignorant of. And – just as importantly – I am better able to share that experience.
My ability to describe my experience actually increases my appreciation and overall experience. This is the nature of language. So, come join me in my own attempt to learn the vocabulary of coffee.
There are only four primary terms that a professional roaster / taster will score in a coffee cupping competition.
Here they are:
The Sacred Herbals first Coffee Guide eBook provides a more detailed description of these four primary terms. After that is a brief description of four Espresso Terms. Finally, there is a longer list of flavor “descriptives.” These are terms used to describe the flavor nuances in the context of the four primary terms.
[ This Coffee Guide eBook is just one of the eBooks that you get with a Sacred Herbals HealthHAX™ FREE Membership. Click on the image to sign up and get immediate access to your free eBooks! ]
At first glance, this is a huge glossary, covering a huge vocabulary – it’s about 25 pages long. Don’t sweat it. Simply focus on the four primary sensations to describe your coffee, and grow from there.
When you ‘cup’ or taste coffee, try to appreciate these qualities, avoid inventing something you fail to taste. Don’t pretend. If at first you don’t ‘get it,’ simply pay attention to what you do appreciate, and more will come with time.
This is just our first Coffee Guide.
Our next Coffee Guide will focus on will focus on:
- what to look for when buying coffee beans;
- why to buy beans and not pre-ground coffee;
- the difference between light-roast and dark-roast caffeine content and taste;
- how to store your coffee; and
- how to brew the perfect cup!
So stay tuned!
Please leave a comment and tell me what terms I missed. And how knowing some of these terms enhances your appreciation of your cuppa joe!