Fleeting flavors of the fall

When it comes to coffee, one of the best ways to train your taster is to drink different coffees side-by-side or in rapid succession. Today, I did just that at Coffeehouse Northwest. I tried two different espressos (the famous “flight” that I have mentioned in the past) within a couple minutes of each other.

The first was a single-origin espresso from Yemen. The enthusiastic barista described it as being full of fall fruits—dates, apricots, pears, etc. My initial impression was that it was a bit earthy (one of my favorite ways to describe “earthiness” is that it is like “leaves in the fall,” especially at this time of year. Imagine the aroma of the leaves as they fall from the trees). The coffee was slightly sweet with a thick, full crema that was just a touch “rough” (the foam had a coarser texture than some cremas do). It had a pleasant aftertaste that lingered. The espresso was excellent.

The second espresso, from Nicaragua, was a very different experience. It had a sweet aroma, and if you tried it, you might get the impression that someone had slipped some raspberries into the cup before filling it with coffee. It had twice the tartness of the first one, tingling more on the tongue and then finishing more cleanly.

When you taste two different coffees in this manner, in addition to improving your ability to detect the differences between the origins, it also helps you understand what you like and what you don’t like. In this case, the second shot was good, but the first one was special. I will keep my eyes open for Yemeni coffee in the future.

Whether you spread a flight out over a couple hours to avoid a big caffeine hit, or drink the coffees one after another to closely compare them, you can build your coffee knowledge and appreciation by taking advantage of one of the better deals in Portland ($4/two shots). It is an affordable approach to improving your coffee conversation capabilities.

[Side note: Autumn has arrived, and with it, apparently, a lot of alliteration.]