Can coffee-tasting journals lead you to better blends? We decode
A few checklists can help you make better coffee
Keeping a flavour wheel or rating roasts - these are the kind of maximalist behaviour customs that non-coffee drinkers might scoff at. But keeping tabs on temperature, grind size, acidity or after-taste can help devoted caffeine lovers fine-tune their experience. A coffee tasting journal’s job is simple; it has been designed to keep track of each flavour note, brewing method, bean size (or origin), roast colour, aroma notes and many other nuances of a particular kind of coffee. This kind of taste journaling can also help coffee lovers curate their own blends based on their logs.
Tasting journals are not too different from a regular journal, except maybe a bit too specific so it’s easier for everyone to make a note of their experience. Amy Newton’s coffee journals are widely loved (available on Amazon at a steal!) because they’re simplistic and don’t intimidate casual tasters or those who are new to journaling. The journal has sections for bean origins, roast type, blend name, a straight-forward taste rating, and date and place, which are easier to register than permutation, grind size or aroma notes.
Another way to go about it is to keep a log of brands, cafes, roasters, brewers or even equipment and recipes to be able to recount memorable combinations. This kind of checklist helps people find their preferred notes or ideal grind size with some second-hand professional assistance. So, they can always learn more about their go-to coffee blends at their favourite cafes or from their neighbourhood roasters and keep journaling this information to re-create the brew at home.
A dual journal system is also effective if one has the time. One basic logbook can keep a track of every great roast, blend, permutation, bean temperature and the physical aspects that are easier to observe, while the other journal can be dedicated to rating roast varieties, logging different results for a brewing method (how a moka pot is different from the French press or cold brew, for instance) and registering personal opinions which is a solid way of finding out how someone really feels about a certain coffee.
The famous 33 Cups of Coffee Pocket Coffee Tasting Notebook, Moleskine's Passions Coffee Journal and The Coffee Journal by The Golden Age of Notebooks (all available online) are all good commercial options to start your tasting journey. However, you can simply make a coffee journal at home depending on the traits that are important to you. Tasting journals also help keep a note on how changes in equipment or technique; if you’ve switched grinders, or are experimenting with drippers or carafes, a log makes it easier to detail how these experiments fared or how your tastes changed. The best hack to keeping a coffee journal: Keep it pocket-sized so you can carry it around and log every new experience