guided by sensory expert professor barry smith and douwe egberts master blender andré hoinkis, we were given a crash course in all the sensory experiences that are necessary to make sure you fully appreciate the taste of that which you are consuming – seriously, who knew taste was so complex?
despite happily discovering i was a ‘supertaster’ (oh, yes!), i’d rather not have had to go through the discovery process; placing a seemingly unassuming piece of chemically coated paper on my tongue i was left almost gagging at the repulsive bitter taste, while all around me others just looked bemused, claiming to taste nothing. my smugness at having such refined tastebuds was bittersweet, rather like the lingering taste of that test.
the rest of the evening was like a super-duper science lesson made cool, all the while plied with copious amounts of caffeine as ‘experiments’. despite my supertasting tongue, it turns out that 80% of taste comes from smell, as the taste buds can only detect sweet, salt, sour and metallic flavours, while stronger flavours – especially that of coffee – come from your sense of smell, which goes a long way to explain why coffee beans are roasted to enhance their scent, and thus flavour.
taste can also be influenced by touch, texture, sight and sound, which makes a lot of sense when you think about it. why, for example, does machine-coffee drunk from a proper mug taste much better than the same machine-coffee from a polystyrene cup? and why does drinking coffee whilst listening to high notes makes it taste fruitier, while drinking coffee listening to low notes makes it taste more bitter? (does it really? i hear you ask. well, try it for yourself and see; you’ll be as surprised as i was, i’m sure!)
as a wannabe coffee aficionado i was particularly enthralled by andré hoinkis’ demonstration of how to make a perfect cup of coffee; blend, grinding and brewing methods, as well as temperature of water, all play a very important role in the flavour, strength and aroma of the coffee being brewed. it turns out my dad really was right to take the kettle of the boil a few seconds early to avoid burning the coffee granules – if he ever reads this, i’ll never live it down…
after the demonstrations we were introduced to douwe egbert’s new senseo twist machine, and my, what a beauty it is! i love the sleek white body and the flash of lime green really adds a nice colour jolt to the design (it is also available in blue). i was lucky enough to be given one to take home with me, and it has become a permenant fixture in my kitchen, and my morning routine, ever since. the lungo blend pads in forte, tradizionale and intenso all offer intensely rich, characterful coffee that packs a good punch early in the morning, while the milk blends of caffe latte and cappuccino provide a smoother, well-rounded coffee experience.
so my friends, how do you take your morning brew?