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Coffee 101 – Taste Lesson

coffeesLast week we started our new Coffee 101 Series to help you better navigate the chaos of the coffee world. This week we are going to kick it up a notch with some terms that will better help describe your coffee flavors preferences. Terms like spicy, earthy, or winy are actually all ways that describe coffee. It may be hard to comprehend some of these terms and how they work within the grounds of the coffee but if you’ve ever tasted them, you know exactly what I am talking about.

If you sipped coffee that had a vanilla or cinnamon taste to it you might describe it as vanilla-y or cinnamon-y, but believe it or not, the term you are looking for is spicy. In coffee terms, spicy simply means it has a type of spice found in food, such as vanilla, cinnamon, or chili. If you tend to choose coffees with with fruity or floral flavors you have a taste for the exotic.  For those of you that gravitate towards flavors that may have a taste similar to wine your preference can described as winy. That can be a bit confusing because many wines have a fruity or floral essence in nature, so don’t confuse exotic with winy.  Lastly, if your coffee has an earthy note to it, you may find the aroma might have a hint of fresh earth, wet soil or raw potatoes. An earthy quality is either a defect or an exotic taste characteristic depending on who you talk to. :-)

Professional coffee tasters not only look at the flavor but also the body when rating a particular coffee. The body is basically the perceived weight or thickness of your coffee. It could range from being thin, like watery, to thick, such as a syrup consistency. Bitter coffee is a harsh, generally unpleasant taste you get on the back of your tongue most commonly found in a dark roast coffee. And if you’ve ever sipped a cup of coffee and thought it tasted salty, it is usually due to coffee that has been continuously heated after brewing is complete, a characteristic also known as briny.

Phew!  I bet you never thought coffee could be it’s own class, did you? After reading Coffee 101 Series, Coffee 101 – Food and Coffee Compliments and this post, are you starting to feel comfortable speaking the coffee language and defining your own personal coffee preferences?  Be on the look out next week for another Coffee 101 Series post that expands on coffee terms.  Don’t be shy, “raise your hand” in class and post your questions by commenting below.  There is no such thing as a dumb question, only the question that is not asked!

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Coffee 101 – Food and Coffee Complements

Coffee & Food PairingsIt’s more popular to have a discussion on food and wine pairings, but not so common to think of food and coffee parings! I’m not merely saying what foods coffee tastes good with, I’m talking about getting into the nitty-gritty of what specific coffee is good with what specific foods.  In the end, everyone has their own favorite coffee & food combos but here is a basic guide of coffee to food pairings based on the way they complement one another.

Let’s start with one of my favorite meals of the day – breakfast.  Depending on how much time I have in the morning often guides what I am going to have for breakfast. Luckily I can save loads of time when it comes to my coffee decision thanks to the ease and speed of k-cups, pods and freshpacks. I just need to decide what I am going to eat so I can pop the right pairing in my single-serve brewer. For example, simple breakfasts like toast or cereal are a good pair with a light or medium roast Colombian coffee because of their grains. Pancakes and syrup pair up nice with a Kona coffee to help supplement the sweet flavors. Eggs and bacon go nicely with a medium roast but if you got creative and made an omelet, then you may have to think twice. Omelets typically need a coffee that can handle all of the full flavors like a Sumatra coffee can. Or, you can just skip the food entirely and enjoy a nice breakfast blend or even coffees that have a glazed donut or cinnamon roll flavor.

A good pairing of food and coffee doesn’t have to stop at breakfast. There are plenty of other pairings throughout the day. A Kenyan coffee is a good pair for things that are fruity, such as most berries, fruity scones, or banana bread. There is one fruit in particular that really brings out a great pair with Jamaican coffee…blueberries! Just like at breakfast time, a Kona coffee with a maple or raisin scone or oatmeal raisin cookies pairs nicely.  You can begin to see a theme between flavors and coffees no matter what time of day.

Now to the most important food – chocolate!  :-)  Everything goes great with chocolate, including coffee. If we’re talking about dessert after dinner, just be careful with that late night caffeine. Brownies, chocolate cake, chocolate dipped fruit, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate all have a great coffee pair for your after meal sweet tooth. Much of the chocolate scale is covered by a nice dark roast Guatemalan coffee, this includes brownies, chocolate cake, and dark chocolate. These usually have a very chocolatey flavor and go well with a coffee that can back that up. White chocolate, on the other hand, is a lighter on the chocolate flavor so a Colombian coffee is a good match. For the fruity flavors of chocolate covered strawberries, similar rules apply as regular fruit. The Kenyan and African coffees are a great compliment to this dish because of their winey (find this term in the next Coffee 101 Series) and fruit like flavors. And then comes my simple favorite, milk chocolate. The easiest of all to pair a coffee to as nearly any coffee will do.

This basic guide is a great start but there is so much room to be creative!  Have a pair that I didn’t mention? I am always looking to try more, so please share! I look forward to hearing what you have in mind.

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Coffee 101 Series

Coffee Question

When you are shopping for coffee there are a lot of terms used to describe a particular brand and flavor…”light roast”, “earthy”, “exotic”, “bright”, or even “spicy”, just to name a few.  Do you really know what those mean?  How can you determine what kind of coffee drinker you are?

When I was younger (and a lot less knowledgeable about coffee) I had visions of my coffee looking bright, smelling like dirt, probably came from some foreign country and had a kick to it like Tabasco.  Really?  Was I that naive?  Luckily I had the sense to do some research and found out how far off from the true meanings I was and that these terms were actually things that helped me define my coffee preference so I would know what to look for when coffee shopping. It gives me a good laugh to look back and see I’ve come a long way since my college days and am much more refined in my coffee knowledge.

We’re excited to begin a new blog series on coffee basics, Coffee 101.  At the end of our series you’ll not only be able to describe what kind of coffee drinker you are but feel more comfortable trying out a new coffee flavor and maybe even impressing a pal or two at the breakfast table. :-)

Coffee 101

When you wake up in the morning and enjoy that smell of your coffee brewing, you are enjoying its aroma. If you like the smell of coffee grounds before they are brewed, that is called the bouquet. While these are terms to describe your coffee in a good way, bland or stale are terms not usually associated with a good cup o’Joe. These mean that there is a lack of flavor in the coffee (bland) or that it has been sitting around for too long and become flat (stale). Last, but not least, there is tone, which is a term used to actually describes the physical appearance of the coffee.

When I was younger I would never think to describe my coffee other than good or bad, but as I have developed my own sense of coffee preference, it’s almost like speaking a different language.  How’s it feel to have your first coffee language lesson? :-)

Questions about the terms we covered here or have a suggestion about what terms you want us to cover next? Have a specific question about one of our products at coffeerocket.com? Leave us a comment!

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Coffee Rocket’s Back To School Giveaway

Microsoft Surface PromoNothing starts my day off on the right track better than my favorite cup of coffee, catching up on current events and a little peace and quiet before everyone in the house begins to stir.  Over the years catching up on the news has evolved from having the paper actually delivered to my home, to delivering it online on my computer, to more recently reading it on my mobile device (smartphone, tablet, etc). Times have changed and technology definitely plays a huge role in many of our daily lives and is constantly evolving at a lightening fast pace!

Even the traditional back-to-school lists, especially for higher education, are evolving and many include some type of computer or mobile device as part of the requirements.  So in recognition of back-to-school being right around the corner we have the perfect giveaway in mind!  From August 6th to the 21st, you can enter to win a Microsoft Surface tablet for FREE!

But what exactly is a Microsoft Surface tablet and what can it do for you? Is it a tablet or a laptop? Well, it is actually both. This tab/top comes loaded with Windows 8 and Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 with enhanced features so that it is touch compatible too. This is just fancy talk for, take it to class and take notes on it! Imagine how easy it will be to carry your coffee and your backpack to class.

Looking for a case? I bought the case that doubles as a keyboard. It’s even spill proof so that when I read the online Sunday paper and bump my coffee over, I can just wipe it off with no worries. Just last week I used my Microsoft Surface to Skype family across the country as they opened their new k-cups from Coffee Rocket. :-)

Fun fact: The Microsoft Surface tablet is made with gorilla glass for high durability so you could even skateboard on it.

microsoft surface skateboard

So hurry and enter to win before its too late! Follow the simple instructions here: http://goo.gl/5vKneP and get yours. #backtoschool #saveoncoffee #CoffeeandSurface

What would you do with yours?

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Hot or Iced…How do you like your coffee?

We are now in the midst of summer and the days are beginning to get hot. Getting tired of a hot beverage on a summer day? It just might be time, if you haven’t already, to give iced coffee a shot. With your single serve machine (like a k-cup or pod machine), it is as easy as filling your cup with ice before brewing and you have a cool treat. Just make sure you use a tumbler instead of a glass cup, so that the change in temperature doesn’t break the cup! That morning cup of coffee will always be hot for me as that has always been my routine, but on a hot afternoon a nice cup of iced coffee could not be more refreshing.

There are so many flavors to offer from the k-cups, such as french vanilla, hazelnut, and vanilla cream if you are interested in stepping outside of the box. Worried about ice cubes watering down the drink? Not a problem!  Ahead of time, make ice cubes with coffee and use those instead! Even a little half and half can make a huge difference. You’ll find that brewing your own iced coffee at home will save you a ton of $$ vs. going through the expensive drive-through at your local coffee shop.  We all know about hot coffee and the amenities it has to offer but are we really exploring the ice coffee alternative?

I know that is just one opinion of many. What do you think? Do you prefer your coffee hot or iced brewed?