Better or Bitter?
“Before I became a Barista, I thought coffee is only strong coffee. It’s because at that time, Brazilian people like black and bitter coffee. However, when I started to be a barista and study about specialty coffee, I was wondering why the producer and more people were asking for something better rather than just bitter. So, as time went on, I started to share with customers and make them understand what is real good coffee.”, Cecília Sanada, National Champion Barista of Brazil said.
This is not just what a Champion Baristas said. Such an experience happens to many professional baristas around the world. It’s because after you studied what is coffee, you will notice the real taste of quality coffee is much more interesting than just bitterness. Good coffee should be sweet and well-balanced, maybe a little acidic, or even just sweet enough that it does not require sugar to make it palatable.
If coffee only has bitterness and nothing else, then it would be a bad thing. However, if your coffee had no bitterness in it at all, you might find it too acidic or too sweet. The key is balance. A reasonable amount of bitterness will help to ensure complexity and complement other flavours, or even give a nice aftertaste. So, bitterness is not always a bad thing.
When we talk about bitterness in coffee, we often think of roasting, but some coffee species are more likely to create perceived bitterness than others. Such as Arabica and Robusta, they are different species of coffee bean. Relatively, Arabica tastes sweeter than Robusta while Robusta is much more bitter, and Arabica has a richer flavour than Robusta.
So, to look for a better coffee instead of pure bitterness, is it really that simple? Well, of course not! There are many possibilities that can affect the balance of coffee: the roasting level, type of beans, brewing method, extraction time, grind size, water temperature, brew time, etc.
In order to avoid complications and simply just to enjoy a cup of nice balance coffee, the best way is to go to an experienced specialty cafe and talk to the barista. This way you can understand what is good coffee and even learn more about the appropriate basic sensory skill to enjoy real quality coffee.