As fall sets in there are numerous things to think about if you work in the coffee industry. It’s time to get the retail merchandise out, to staff up behind the bar and brace ourselves for the busiest time of the year. In addition to the normal hubbub, we are only about 9 weeks away from the SCAA Midwest Regional Barista Championship. In lieu of that, we are just entering our fifth week of practice. Over the last weekend we had a great turnout and worked on refining our palates by doing an apple tasting. We tried 10 different apples overall and it honed our taste buds for the following espresso tasting. A common challenge when you are still developing your palate for coffee is tasting beyond just the coffee flavor. We’ve fallen back on the apple excercise a few times, and the rules are simple: Describe each apples’ flavor without using the word apple. It often yields interesting results. Most people come to find out that they don’t really like their alleged favorite apple when tasted in a line up. There are also some that you don’t normally notice that stand out tremendously from the crowd. Surprisingly, the constant favorite after each time is generally the relatively unknown Cameo apple. It’s sweet with hints of caramel with a nice texture and a little tartness. It’s the best of all worlds without being overwhelming.
As for practice in general, things are coming along quite nicely. We are already beyond where we were last year at this time, but we recognize that that is probably true for a lot of people, so we remain focused and unrelenting. We are continuing to press in….to get to know coffee better and better, as there is always something intriguing to explore. We’ll keep you up to date as we continue through this competition season and, as always, if you have questions over what competition entails, or how to put together your own tasting please email me for more information.