I have written a couple of posts about how my coffee preference seems to change with the seasons. It seems my palate and taste preference has also changed over the past few years.
Around 2012 or so I stopped drinking beers. I started living a very strict paleo/primal lifestyle. I gave up all grains. I didn’t even eat grains on cheat days. The bread and pasta was no big deal. I had, however, grown in love with the rapidly growing craft beer industry. It was a tough break up. One of the reasons I really got into coffee more was because I needed something to replace the love I had for the craft beer industry and the craft coffee industry took it’s place. Earlier this Summer I began experimenting with adding beer back into my diet on Saturdays. I am back on the craft beer train. I only drink my gluten.
It didn’t take long before I realized my taste in beer styles shifted. I wasn’t a big fan of hoppy beers before. I liked them ok but I didn’t love them. To my surprise I not only love hoppy IPAs but I can now easily distinguish between some of the different types of hops and can pick out a West-coast style vs an East-coast style with ease. I think a couple of things played a big role in the expansion of my palate and change in tastes. Coffee and wine.
Even before starting on a paleo/primal diet1 I very rarely had beer during the week. But, I have coffee ever single day. Over the past 2.5 years I have had hundreds of different types of coffees from all over the world and from too many roasters to count. I savored most of these cups. I read the tasting notes and tried to develop a better idea of what specifically I liked about certain types. I was ultimately drawn to the more complex flavors I believe are found especially in Ethiopian coffee. One of the most fascinating things was the change in flavors an individual cup can have as it cools to room temperature.
During this same time period I increased my consumption of wine quite a bit. In fact, I have a small 5 ounce glass most days. Again, not surprisingly, I was drawn to reds. With the help of my wife and visits to a lot of vineyards and wineries2 and was able to pick out specific tasting notes and develop a taste profile I liked. Since I mostly drink red wine, I do so mostly at room temperature or just below room temperature.
Tasting coffee and wine almost daily aided in my palate development but so did the temperatures at which I enjoyed them. Enter my emergence back into craft beer consumption. I now like my beers to “warm up” a bit. This is the true way to get the full taste profile. In the same way Starbucks likes to over roast their beans and serve their coffee scalding hot to hide the lack of true flavor, large beer producers want you to drink their beers “ice cold”. It helps hide the total lack of flavor.
Training your palate to experience and enjoy new tastes is important if you expect to roast good coffee. Had I not exposed my palate to so many different types of flavors I would probably still be conditioned to think Starbucks coffee is “good”.