A Dummy’s Palate

Stonington and Deer Isle are blessed with an excellent local coffee house, 44 North.  (44 North is the latitude of Stonington and Deer Isle, in case you are interested.)  The shop roasts its coffee right here, and its location in Stonington, at the edge of the downtown area, is a classic, comfortable place to sit and drink a cup of coffee and enjoy a cookie or a scone — in normal times when social distancing doesn’t require that you drink your joe outside, that is.

But here’s the problem:  whenever I go into 44 North to get some of their fine, fresh ground coffee, I feel overwhelmed, like a junior high school algebra student sitting at a table listening to a bunch of college physics professors talking about the finer points of their lates calculus equations.  I might get that they are chatting about math in some mysterious sense, but that’s about it.

It’s the same with 44 North’s terrific coffee.  I love the smell, but when I taste it I just can’t appreciate the subtleties of the roasting and preparation process.  I’m sorry to admit that, when it comes to coffee, my palate is not only not educated, it hasn’t even begun its schooling.  Sad to say, I’ve got a dummy’s palate.

This week, for example, I bought two bags of coffee.  One, the Colombia, is described in the “tasting notes” on the bag as having a “sweet and spicy aroma with a rich dark chocolate body.”  The “tasting notes” on the other bag, the Sol Y Luna Blend, refer to “bright raspberry and dark chocolate.”  But try as I might, even squinting in a physical effort to maximize the discernment of my taste buds, I cannot detect the raspberry — or for that matter the dark chocolate.  I can enjoy the sweet and spicy aroma of the Colombia and when I take a slug I can recognize that it is a darker roast than the Sol Y Luna (at least, I think it is), but that’s about it.  They both taste to my poor dummy’s palate like coffee — excellent coffee, to be sure, but still coffee.

Well, at least I can enjoy the smell of the coffee grounds when I open the bag.

3 thoughts on “A Dummy’s Palate

  1. Indeed, coffee is one of our great sensory experiences and a pleasant daily ritual! This post took me back into the past when I lived in Seattle and worked 5 years in the wholesale/retail world of Seattle’s Best Coffee in the ’80s (still a local endeavor). Much of our training involved tasting coffee, sometimes “cupping” it. It was one of the highlights of the job. I have included a link that explains how “taste masters” arrive at their expert conclusions. Thanks for the memories and keep buying local coffee!!!

    https://www.baristainstitute.com/inspiration/what-coffee-cupping

    Liked by 1 person

  2. PS
    Don’t be intimidated. Always go with what tastes good to you. Most local coffee roasters are in love with their coffee and would not hesitate to chat about them, don’t be shy…. One of my all-time favorites is medium-roast Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. It is so full-bodied & so smooth… Keep buying local coffee!!

    Liked by 1 person

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