Coffee is a sensory experience that stimulates our sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing and our mind. Here we go through some of our favourite and perhaps some new forms of drinking coffee. As we begin our sensory coffee odyssey an important note about how caffeine stimulates our mind: Caffeine actually does not give us any more energy. This is an illusion. Rather caffeine mimics a naturally occurring neurotransmitter in the brain called adenosine which promotes sleep and suppresses arousal. When caffeine enters our blood stream via the gastro-intestinal tract (and passes the blood brain barrier) dopamine and glutamate - both natural stimulants - are able to be released more rapidly because the brain is tricked into thinking the adenosine is at work when in fact it's not. That's why you feel better!
Now, while caffeine stimulates our mind, the various ways of consuming and imbibing a coffee will have different effects on our senses and our enjoyment of the drink. Here is a summary of the various ways to stimulate your senses using coffee!
Espresso - a colloidal suspension of water, oil and coffee this emulsion is a rich romance that exists barely for a moment. Leave your espresso for a while and the crema will dissipate leaving a rich black liquid. The colder, older drink will still contain caffeine and perhaps may release new nuances that were not existent at it's original hot temperatures however it quickly loses it's former boldness and beauty. Created in around thirty seconds using one-and-a-half atmospheres of pressure this unique beverage is concentrated and powerful. Allow the espresso to cool for a moment and then sip, aspirating the beverage to the back of the throat and to the nasal passage. Think about the body of the drink - is it thick or thin? Think about the level of acidity and sweetness. Do flavours linger? Are there hints of bitterness or berries? This beverage contains around nine grams of solids in around forty to fifty grams of water. The extraction yield is around twenty percent. This is calculated as espresso yield (in grams) divided by dose (in grams) times the total dissolved solids as measured by refractometry. Espresso is a rich and romantic way to experience a coffee, especially a single origin.
Long Black - a diluted form of espresso this weaker drink (less parts of coffee in the water) allows the drinker to enjoy their coffee for longer. As the drink cools, the crema will dissipate leaving new aromas and flavours. One can arguably achieve a more developed appreciation of a coffee by use of a long back as they are able to enjoy more sips! Poured over 80 degree bed of water an long black is a full-shot of espresso; usually fifty grams over sixty grams of water. This reflective drink is not as romantic as the espresso but just as engaging.
Batch Brew - a commercial, high volume production of a light roast filter coffee. These coffees usually require around 150 grams of coarsely ground coffee brewed for six minutes creating three litres of coffee. This is a quick and easy way to gain a caffeine fix and taste the subtleties of a greta coffee. Batch brew systems such as Fetco, Bunn, MoccaMaster are great ways to showcase a filter coffee to customers. Single origins taste great as do blends such as our three-bean filter blend. While espresso is romantic and long black is reflective, a batch brew is effective!
Pour-over - a delicate and complex brew method a pour-over is generally a small dose of around twelve to twenty grams of lightly roasted filter coffee brewed using near-boiling water and poured every so gently through a paper filter to create a clear, clean, unadulterated coffee drink. This one really stimulates the senses of sight, smell and taste. Watch as the bed of water blooms with the coffee grinds. Adjust your pour and agitation methods to extract more coffee. Unlike espresso the longer the brew duration the stronger the coffee. A pour-over is a delicate, gentle and up-close-and-personal appreciation of a coffee.
Cappuccino - a sensual overload of coffee, milk and chocolate. The ideal cappuccino is rich and frothy, creamy and delicious. Usually utilising a full-bodied, acidic coffee the espresso base slices it's way through the milk and joins to become a tasty beverage. Around one third espresso, one third milk, and a dome covering of foam (chocolate optional) a cappuccino is a sensual stimulation overload. An indulgence. Three of these and you can skip lunch!
There are plenty of other ways to continue to enjoy our coffee odyssey. What's yours?