At Modern Times Coffeehouse (early Sunday morning enter through the back door of the Politics and Prose Bookstore that houses it) they were pulling Destroyer by Ceremony on their La Marzocco Linea. It had a sharp nose and tasted toasty, then blackberry, then cinnamon and then finished with an unusual flavor: it had a beefy, cheesy, proteinaceous quality about it in common with an aspect of the taste of soy sauce; I want to call it an umami note. I never experienced anything like that before. All-in-all, a good cup. Their croissants were the smallest that I have ever seen. They were crispy but only slightly flaky, almost bready. The flavor was nondescript.
I think taste receptor physical chemistry is too complex to assume only a few moieties will trigger an impulse without a lot of side-chain and aromatic overlap. Add to that tastes that we learn to taste through association.
Oddly enough, the Java Sojourner is in Baltimore even as I type. He is planning a trip down to Annapolis to visit Ceremony Roasters. Your post has suggested to him that he might pick up some Destroyer and give it a second tasting. Want any?
Posted Wed May 1, 2013, 8:43am Subject: Re: Unexpected Savory Taste in Coffee?
Umami and Barnyard are quite different 'flavors'. These have been in flavor notes for a while.
FWIW, I roasted 20lbs of that Klatch Worka over the last year. (just finished the last of it). It has been one of the cleanest DP Ethiopians I've had in years. DP always benefit from extra defect sorting, and there are still defect beans that make it to an occasional cup. (it gives you something to blame when you pull an off shot.....) I really have enjoyed roasting and working with this coffee, mostly as a 50% blend component. It has the sweetest clean fruit aroma during drying and does well from City+ through Full City. Maybe I got lucky with my bags; I've never noted 'barnyard' or anything close to feces in the cup. Hope I can get such a great Ethiopian in the coming crop season. I still pine for Idido Misty Valley.
Posted Wed May 1, 2013, 10:37am Subject: Re: Unexpected Savory Taste in Coffee?
I agree there's a distinction to be made (between umami and barnyard), but there's a little overlap between those two categories, too, IMO. Anyway, glad you like the Worka. That Idido Misty Valley was something! Nothing savory about it from what I remember--just blueberries galore.
Posted Wed May 1, 2013, 3:33pm Subject: Re: Unexpected Savory Taste in Coffee?
I think of umami as 'broth', like beef or the miso is a good analogy. Barnyard I have tasted more in wine, but not so much like 'manure' as earthy compost and hay; literally like a barnyard. I think Barnyard is a more complex descriptor.
Posted Thu May 2, 2013, 5:50am Subject: Re: Unexpected Savory Taste in Coffee?
I find this interesting, but apologies for introducing the tangent. The last thing I'll say about the distinction we're now discussing is that "cheese" straddles the fence between the two terms for me. Of course, it depends somewhat on the cheese. ;) Anyhoo...
Back to "savory," the coffees I most associate with it are Kenyas. I've had a few in the past that were definitely brothy and/or stewed tomato-y.
I love when these sorts of unexpected sensory connections crop up. Memories of specific aromas and tastes can be so strong!
Posted Mon May 6, 2013, 7:29pm Subject: Re: Unexpected Savory Taste in Coffee?
I thought of this post yesterday when I was roasting. A couple of El Salvador Bourbons; El Rubi Honey and La Montanita, when going through the Drying phase, Bean temp 280-290F and ET 350F, had a distinct beefy/meaty aroma. At lower temps the smell is grassy, then above 300F the nose goes to the toasty/browning. I don't get those notes in the finished roast or brew with these coffees though.
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