Have you ordered a bad cup of coffee? We all have gone to a restaurant, ordered something that didn’t taste good and then never went back cc: Yelp reviews. But maybe it wasn’t the restaurant, maybe it was us.
See, we all have different taste buds and preferences. So, when you ask a server, “what do you recommend?” it will be based on their preferences – not yours.
We sat down with Al Liu, Vice President of Coffee at Colectivo Coffee, a Milwaukee-based coffee shop opening its second location in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood (2261 N. Milwaukee Ave.) on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017.
How to Order Coffee For Your Tastebuds:
Here are some tips to help you understand how you like your cup of coffee.
At Colectivo Coffee, they label their coffee with three indicators – RBA: Roast, Body, Acidity. We’re going to walk through all three to help you pick the right cup of coffee for you.
The Coffee Roast:
“I like medium roasts,” I tell the barista.
Honestly, I don’t even know what that means – I guess that I am a person who doesn’t know what she likes, so she stays in the middle.
I like to think of roasts as where you end up than where you start. See, roasts indicate a few things.
- The actual color of the bean – light to dark.
- The caffeine level. Lighter roasts have more caffeine than darker roasts.
- The acidity level. Lighter roasts have more acidity than darker roasts.
So, when you say you like a light roast, you want more caffeine and more acidity in your cup of coffee.
The Coffee Body:
Next, we move on to the coffee’s body. This indicates the richness.
Al Liu compared it to milk, which ranges from Skim milk through Whole Milk. Skim milk is lighter and Whole milk is heavier and more filling.
When you sip a cup of coffee, let it sit on your tongue. How does it feel? Coffee with less body will be lighter (in terms of weight) and coffee with more body will be heavier.
At Colectivo, their Guatemalan coffee has less body, while their Brazilian coffee has a heavier body.
For coffee aficionados, acidity is described as “smooth” for lower acidity and “bright” for more acidic blends.
For me, I also noticed that this translated into the taste of the cup of coffee. The Brazilian coffee was more flavorful – I could pick up on nutty aromas. The Guatemalan coffee was lighter and when I took a sip of the Brazilian compared to the Guatemalan coffee, the Guatemala coffee was weaker to me. It didn’t taste as strong as the Brazilian blend.
The Coffee Acidity:
Interestingly enough, coffee acidity doesn’t indicate the pH balance. It’s a sensation that you feel on your tongue.
Take a sip of coffee and let it sit on your tongue. Once you’ve swallowed it, notice if there is a sensation on the back of your tongue. The stronger the sensation, the more acidic the cup of coffee.
In my coffee tasting at Colectivo, I noticed that I preferred coffee with less acidity.
After sampling a few different blends, I realized that I like coffee with less acidity and a fuller body. So, while I came in asking for a medium roast, I should have ordered a darker roast.
Note that different coffee shops have different scales of roasts. So, a light roast coffee at Starbucks won’t be the same as a light roast coffee at Colectivo. Pay attention to the acidity and body of the blend, which will be a better guide.
The last detail to consider is flavor. Coffee’s flavor changes based on location. In Guatemala, for instance, there are three different coffee regions. In the highland regions of Guatemala, Huehuetenango coffee is grown, which has a fruity flavor.
One of the most popular blends for more than twenty years at Colectivo is the Blue Heeler, Sumatra blend. Sumatra blends generally have a heavier body and lower acidity, and they have spice which can range from roasted bell pepper to sweet tobacco, sometimes.
Pro Tip: If you do pick up a bag of coffee from Colectivo, they come as coffee beans. You can ask the barista to grind your coffee for you.
Colectivo Coffee Shop Opens in Logan Square:
Colectivo Coffee shop opens December 20, 2017, in Logan Square, its second location in Chicago, IL. The new cafe features an outdoor patio and year-round fire pit, operable floor-to-ceiling glass windows, and Colectivo’s signature unexpected design touches throughout, like vintage industrial mixing bowls transformed into indoor hanging planters.
Logan Square will offer a full menu of Session Roasted coffees, Colectivo Keg Co. house beers, Letterbox Fine Teas, made from scratch & delivered fresh daily Troubadour bakery items, all-day breakfast, and signature sandwiches made on slow-made bread.