☕ Coffee Journey - XXL

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash


As mentioned in my Barista post, we'll talk some more about sizes. The XXL size, to be exact. Trenta wasn't always a thing, and I am not even sure why Trenta (= thirty in Italian) actually contains 31 ounces. A Venti drink is twenty ounces, which makes perfect sense becaue venti is Italian for twenty. 

Back in the days, there were only two sizes at Starbucks: short and tall. As everything in the U.S. needs to be bigger, better, taller, faster, the drink sizes grew accordingly. 

I also promised to talk more about parallels of personality traits and the way these people like their coffee, I don't know who came up with them first, I feel like they all copy and paste from each other, 

Anyway, I liked the graphics I found here. They all refer to "a study" but fail to release the source. I do believe however, it was commissioned by Califia Farms and conducted by OnePoll.

Enjoy them with a grain of salt and let me know if any of it is accurate where you come from:

Now let's have some fun exploring coffee, I'll tell you how to do a coffee tasting.

Photo by Battlecreek Coffee Roasters on Unsplash

Technically what the guy in this picture is doing, is called "cupping".

Cupping is a method that producers and buyers apply to check the quality of a batch of coffee. This is how it works:

Hot water is poured onto freshly roasted and ground beans directly into a cup and allowed to steep for 4 minutes. The infusion is mixed and the foamy head removed. The coffee will need to cool before tasting, otherwise you'll burn your tongue and won't be able to taste anything. 

Using two spoons, one going in the cup and the other in your mouth you wil then slurp and taste the coffee and then spit it out. At leat that's what professional tasters do. They can't possibly drink all the coffee they taste throughout the day.

When we, no matter if we're professionals, amateurs or just coffee lovers, are tasting coffee - or wine for that matter - we follow four steps:


Always smell the coffee before you taste it. Your nose is able to detect thousands of smells. Cup your hand over the cup, hold the cup close to your nose and inhale


When tasting coffee it's imprtant - and totally okay - to slurp the coffee. Slurping sprays coffee across your entire palate and lets subtle flavors and aromas reach our nose.


Think about where you experience flavors on your tongue. Is it the tip or the sides? What's the mouthfeel and weight on your tongue?


Now that you have smelled and tasted the coffee, try to describe your experience. Describe the aroma, acidity, body and flavor - see next paragraph.

As we're describing the cofffe, we like to compare and contrast them by identifiying the following characteristics:


The way coffee smells: earthy, spicy, floral, nutty, chocolaty. These aromas are related to the coffee's flavor.


The tangy sensation or tartness, not the pH level of the water. You can feel acidity on the sides of your tongue, similar to when you taste cistrus fruit and drinks. Coffee with high acidity are described as bright or crisp. Coffee with low acidity on the other hand feel smooth and linger on your tongue.


The weith of the coffee on your tongue. Does it feel light or full in your mouth? It's like comparing whole milk to non-fat milk.


The way coffee tastes. This characteristic is registered in different parts of the mouth. Citrus, cocoa and berries are just a few distinctive flavors you may recognize. 

Have a look at this chart, it tells you where on your tongue you can detect if something tastes sour, sweet, bitter or salty. 

A word about your sense of taste as opposed to your sense of smell. It's said that up to 80% of flavor is related to smell, not taste, and everyone who suffered a cold will confirm that a stuffed nose compromises your ability to tell wheter the food is tasty or not.

Here's a fun experiment we did in a Starbucks training session, and I encourage you to go for it as well, especially if you have young children.

Photo by Volker Meyer 

It's called the Jelly Bean experiment, and this is how it works:

  • Shut your eyes and hold your nose closed. 
  • Grab a Jelly Bean or have someone hand you one. Put it in your mouth.
  • Chew slowly and try to determine what flavor it is.
  • You'll notice it's hard if not impossible. 
  • Now allow yourself to breathe normally, and BOOOM, you can tell it's cherry. Or orange. Unmistakably!

Amazing, isn't it?

We did a similar thing in science class back in the days. The teacher had a friend whose employer produced natural and articifial flavorings. We were allowed to look at the little bottles and smell the flavorings. Should be easy enough, right? Didn't I just say most of your perception is olfactory?

Just go back to your old elementary school or a hospital, and long forgotten memories will miraculously pop up in your head.

Back to our little bottles:

The catch was that they came in crysal clear liquids, which made it considerably harder. I sniffed and I knew it smelled so familar. Like a particular chewing gum. But what flavor? It ended up being watermelon.

Can you relate to any of this? Do you have a favorite smell in your life? Mine are cinnamon and freshly baked breads and cakes. Plus coffee - duh.


  1. Aaaha what an elaborate step by step instructions of coffe tasting. Never knew they sip.and then spit...those traits based on coffee are fun...am black coffee last one...i never knew which part of tongue tasted what more....the science experiment is also fun...when ever i hav cold yes i cant taste well due to lack of smell i guess

    Dropping by from a to z "The Pensive"

  2. By the way xxl.seems like too much of a coffee to me :)

  3. I'm generally a black coffee drinker (occasionally will indulge in a white chocolate specialty)...

  4. Oh- and I can tell whaqt jelly bean I am savoring. They are the 'bestest'

  5. I do love the smell of coffee. My nose is not very perceptive so I would not be a good tester. However, my son has a nose like a bloodhound. I have always told him that he could b a tester or a chef. He has no interest LOL

  6. I too like those aromas that you mention. I consider myself to have a good sense of smell though I'm no connoisseur in any way. I don't pay much attention to my coffee for the most part, but if it's really good I can appreciate it and when it's bad I can tell.

    As far as those personality traits, they got me pretty accurately described. But then, maybe it's like horoscopes. My preferences are mocha frappes or strong espresso. But my regular morning coffee works just fine too.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  7. Vanilla and cinnamon. Oh, and licorice and chocolate. My favorite smells. Just give me a large please, no sugar and a little bit of 1/2 and 1/2 or sugar free flavored creamer. Thanks!

  8. I always wondered what the sizes of the coffee meant.

  9. reminded me of wine tasting. We love coffees especially the bold flavors.


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