As coffee enthusiasts and taste lovers, we have to recognize that when it comes to achieving excellence in a coffee cup, Scandinavian roasters are masters. What is their magic formula? Sounds simple yet not that easy to achieve it, a perfect light roast coffee to highlighting the coffee bean origins flavors. 

We were fortunate enough to have the chance to taste the exquisite coffee from Bean Bros., a Copenhagen based specialty coffee roastery. Our curious minds and taste buds couldn’t miss the chance to perform a VINHOOD tasting session with our coffee, wine, beer and tasting experts, who are heavy Italian coffee drinkers. It was the perfect chance to challenge their local coffee habits with some of the finest coffees in the specialty world. The outcome will astonish you. 

Bean Bros. and the Nordic Culture

There is a good reason why the specialty coffee community worships Nordics coffee roasting. As we previously stated in our article “Coffee roasting – Nordic style on the spotlight”,  Norther European roasters and importers are pioneers on what we can call coffee purism when it comes to focusing on coffee’s origin, variety, terroir, and processing methods. The first ones to decipher the enigma of how to taste the actual flavors and “fruitiness” of the coffee cherry, Nordic roasters realized that to do so a lighter roast is essential. Contrary to the dark roast versions previously utilized in Central Europe specially in France and Italy, were earthy, nutty, and burnt aromas are mainly highlighted. With this light roast formula, they unveiled the path to other coffee lovers to discover  unique sweet & subtly acid coffee attributes. 

Bean Bros. honors this Nordic culture. Their coffee is a clear example of how detailed they are when it comes to taste quality.  The strong relationships they maintain with the coffee farmers allows them to work with high quality green beans, knowing perfectly what is the raw material they are going to deal with. The cherry on the top, is the medium to light roast, which gives the coffee a balanced flavor, allowing for hints of acidity and sweet flavor notes to emerge with its nuances given by the origin. 

ragazzo che fa degustazione caffè

The Coffee

When we knew we had the fortune to do a coffee tasting with such coffee beans, we couldn’t miss the chance to challenge our sensory team and their strong Italian coffee culture. It was the time to show them that coffee goes beyond a bitter espresso with their loved crema. Not to say one is better than the other, because coffee is not a black and white world. Instead, it is a beautiful one full of an enormous array of brown shades and even larger flavorful and aromatic nuances. 

For the tasting, we had to consider the panelists’ coffee habits and rituals when choosing the type of coffee from Bean Bros. offered, in order not to have a negative first impression. Just like you don’t force an Italian to put Pineapple in their pizza, we couldn’t go with a coffee cup with a persistent bright acidity and a mellow body.  For this reason, we felt the best way to go was to taste the Volcán Azul – Costa Rica and the Huila Colombia coffee beans. 

Generally speaking, coffees from Costa Rica tend to have a sweet and fruity flavor profile, just like #Cheerful coffee does. While, Colombian coffee tend to be characterized by its mellow and elegant body with pleasant fruity and floral aromas, making it ideal for a #Chill coffee profile.

With our coffee beans selection, we were just missing the last piece, the brewing method. This is the part of the process where we could be more creative and see the real impact habits have on our taste preferences. We chose to taste these two coffee blends with a V60, to get a lighter bodied cup yet with good sweet and acid notes, and an espresso to keep the bitter flavors, the strong body and the so desired crema that most of our panelists are used to.

caffè Costa Rica Volcan Azul di Bean Bros

The Tasting

Now, let’s get to the point, the real business. 

So, what are the main differences perceived by our panelists between the coffee blends at a sensory level? How does the chosen brewing method affect these perceptions?

In order to answer these questions, we had to go full on with our VINHOOD style tasting. Put pen to paper and write down all the details. Yet be advised, you can try home at your own risk!

It is fundamental to create a perfect environment for the tasting: the place must be as silent as possible and far from any distractions. We advise you stay away from rooms that have strong smells (such as kitchens) so you don’t compromise smell perception. 

We selected seven panelists, among our pool of expert tasters. They tasted all four coffee cups blindly, without knowing their characteristics nor origins. Two cups per product type and two per brewing method. The V60 method, more suitable for Bean Bros. coffee beans, was tasted first and then the espresso. 

The panelists evaluated the coffees according to taste attributes like, strength, complexity and the aromas perceived when drinking the coffee, supported by an intensity scale. They were also asked to identify the aromas that stood out most from each tasting, choosing from a list of specific attributes. Next, they had to describe the mood or feeling that emerged when tasting the coffee: an image or a sensation generated by the sensorial experience. In order to evaluate the full experience, each taster had to pick their favorite coffee.

The most liked? We will only reveal this at the end.

The Key Findings

Now, let’s dig into the key findings and main differences emerged between the coffee blends and brewing methods tasted by the panelists. 

For the majority of the panelists, the Huila Colombia coffee blend, regardless of the brewing method, was perceived to own a bright acidity. Prepared as an Espresso, a slight acidity and dryness was perceived, with an increased structure (referred to as body – easier to understand for a regular consumer). In the V60 extraction case, however, a stronger acidity emerged, yet the body becomes more delicate.

Costa Rica coffee, instead, was perceived to be sweeter, which, due to the right amount of bitter and acid notes, made it a particularly balanced coffee cup.

A good coffee can’t miss its unique aromatic components to be complete. The Huila Colombia coffee aromas were perceived to be fresher, rich in citrus, zesty and tropical fruit notes. The Volcan Azul – Costa Rica in the other hand owned “evolved” notes, with forest like, dried fruit, cocoa and chocolate hints. This profile is enriched by light herbaceous scents, as well as sweet honey and vanilla nuances. In general, the Costa Rica coffee was perceived to have a richer creaminess and a more intense aroma.

Now, let’s explore the differences between the brewing methods. For the Huila Colombia, the differences between brewing methods were mainly perceived from an intensity point of view, where the espresso method definitely owned a stronger body. With the same brewing method, espresso, the Volcan-Costa Rica blend aromatic intensity was enriched, not the body, making it “an elegant” coffee, as described by our panelists.

Just for the Huila Colombia blend, the aromas were accentuated with the V60 method. For the Volcan – Costa Rica, there was no aromatic change. 

Regardless of the brewing method, based on the panelists’ judgement, both coffee are #Adventurous, due to its acidity and good tropical fruit and citrusy aromatic profile. Only with the espresso, it gained a bit more of body, yet it didn’t lose enough acidity nor any bitter and toasted like aromatic nuances came out to make it either a #Fascinating coffee. 

Last but not least, the more “emotional” part. Why emotional? Well, the fact that people’s memories and experiences allow them to associate very precise images to the product tasted, it is indeed an indicator of preference and choice. For this reason, in order to fully discover what these products could ignite our senses and emotions, we asked our tasters to indicate, the emotion or mood emerged or came  to mind  with every coffee that was tasted. 

This is where we found the most interesting findings, which we believe have an effect on our habits and sensory perceptions.  The Huila Colombia blend evoked the most pleasant images and feelings: a relaxing spring day at the seaside, an afternoon treat with a warm breeze caressing the skin. The same coffee in espresso, recalled a delightful Sunday morning in the countryside, an autumn day spent with a faithful companion sipping coffee on a rocking chair, admiring the colors of the surrounding nature. 

Costa Rica coffee, on the other hand, did not have big differences among brewing methods in terms of emotions and feelings. According to our tasters, it is a coffee suitable for a meeting among colleagues or for a break during office hours. Or, the ideal drink for a gloomy day, in which you prefer to stay in bed and watch movies all day long. A less romantic coffee, but perfect for the everyday life.

Though, the most interesting aspect of these descriptions is the link with the panelists’ coffee cup preference. 

So finally we arrive to the moment of truth that you’ve been waiting for… which of these coffees was most appreciated by the panelists? 

The results are shocking! 

Despite being serial espresso coffee consumers, only a small group preferred the Costa Rica coffee prepared in this way, and no favorites for the Huila Colombia in espresso. Though, in the top part of the preference table, we have… no single winner! Huila Colombia and Volcan – Costa Rica prepared with the V60 are tied, confirming the greater potential of this extraction method with the selected coffees. 

The majority of our panelists, who have strong Italian coffee habits, shockingly had a romantic connection with the coffee cups they were supposed to like the least. Not only that, but the cups brewed with espresso were at the bottom in terms of preference.

Instantly some questions come to our minds. Are taste choices really based on habits? or is it the fact that we tend to fall in love with the one time coffee drink that evokes stronger emotions, yet for our daily routines we prefer other tastes? 

From these questions we find our last main take away: the relationship between our panelists’ taste #Characters, their preference among the two coffee blends, and the brewing methods utilized is important to close the gap that today exists between the specialty coffee world and the traditional strong consumption habits. 

So, what are we talking about?  For every #Character, there is a brewing method that in fact will exalt their best attributes. This could work for both the coffee blend and the consumers #Character. In this case, it allowed the coffee blends to give their best when prepared as a V60, the perfect brewing method for a bright and citrusy #Adventurous coffee. 

In the other hand, our panelists own either #Vigorous or #Cheerful character taste profiles. This means they either love strong and bitter coffee cups or very sweet and balanced ones. The fact that the majority preferred the coffee blends brewed with a V60, which own an #Adventurous character, something completely outside their taste preferences, can help us identify that the espresso instead of bringing the coffee blends closer to our panelists taste preferences, it highlights other attributes that the taster completely dislike. 

We will need to dig deeper on how we can bring people closer to those coffee blends and brewing methods that suits their taste preferences. More tastings will allow us to understand better how habits relate to peoples final choice and with our communication, we will find the way of making the whole coffee world even more  inclusive. 

In the end, this is the VINHOOD mission!