How to Organize an Incredible Coffee Tasting | Karen Attman | Skillshare

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How to Organize an Incredible Coffee Tasting

teacher avatar Karen Attman, The Coffee Lady

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

12 Lessons (33m)
    • 1. Organize an Incredible Coffee Tasting intro video

    • 2. Secrets of coffee professionals

    • 3. Ways Coffee Professionals Evaluate Coffee

    • 4. The first two

    • 5. This one may surprise you

    • 6. This is the hard one to understand

    • 7. This one is easier

    • 8. The fun one

    • 9. This one brings it all into harmony

    • 10. The last one that lingers

    • 11. Steps to take to Organize an Incredible Coffee Tasting

    • 12. How you can organize an incredible coffee tasting

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About This Class

How to Organize an Incredible Coffee Tasting

Do you love coffee?

Do you want to create an experience that unites your friends, family, and co-workers in a fun and delicious coffee tasting activity?

If that sounds exciting, this class is for you!

Karen Attman, the founder of the Latin American Coffee Academy, will help you learn how to do a coffee tasting like the pros do (but she makes it fun!). Then she'll help you use that knowledge to create an unforgettable experience that will help you bond with the people you love

In this class you will learn how to evaluate and appreciate coffee – essentially, you'll feel like a coffee expert. Then Karen will show you how to organize a coffee tasting with friends, family, or workmates.

A coffee tasting is an ideal in-person or virtual activity. So whether your friends live around the corner or around the world, you can do a coffee tasting with them. 

What you’ll learn in this class

  • Learn to evaluate and discuss coffee like a professional coffee taster
  • Discover 8 ways coffee experts determine if coffee is good
  • Understand - and describe in your own words - each characteristic of coffee
  • Learn to set up a coffee tasting with friends or for work

And you’ll get access to Karen’s exclusive coffee tasting tools! (You can download them in the Class Projects section).

Why should you learn about coffee with a professor?

Frankly, why would you want to learn with anyone but an expert? Karen lives in a coffee-producing country (Colombia) and worked as a coffee professor at the prestigious La Sabana University until she started her own coffee academy. She is also the author of Permission to Slurp, a book on coffee tasting.

Karen has taught people from every continent - even coffee professionals! - about coffee in Latin America. She has years of experience taking a complicated subject and making it easy and fun.

That's why people call her The Coffee Lady (seriously, you can Google it).

What if you don't like coffee?

Many of Karen’s students don't actually like coffee! But they recognize that learning about coffee is an essential life skill...and along the way, some of them learn to love the brew.

What if your English isn't perfect?

Karen’s students come from everywhere around the world and some have learned English as a second language. So don't worry if your English isn't perfect - her students tell her the information she teaches is easy to understand.

Meet Your Teacher

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Karen Attman

The Coffee Lady


Karen is the creator of the Latin American Coffee Academy, an online school that teaches people from around the world about some of the tastiest coffee in the world. She helps people who are entering the coffee industry understand the true essentials of coffee so they can succeed in their chosen corner of the industry.

She was a professor of coffee at the prestigious La Sabana University in Bogota. Karen is the author of Permission to Slurp, a guide to tasting Colombian specialty coffee. The book has been widely accepted by experts in the coffee industry as well as coffee lovers who are just beginning their journey into specialty coffee. In fact, the book was nominated for the category of Best Coffee Books by the Gourmand Awards in 2018.

Her boutique coffee education ... See full profile

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1. Organize an Incredible Coffee Tasting intro video: Do you love coffee? Would you like to create an experience where you bring together family, friends, maybe coworkers, bring them to an activity where you can work together towards a common goal in something that's fun and delicious. If that sounds good to you, then this is the class for you. In this class, I will guide you to understand how coffee professionals evaluate and judge coffee, which is more simple than it sounds and I make it a lot of fun. Then I will help you to take that knowledge and create unforgettable experiences with the people that surround you. So who am I? A woman name is Karen, and I was a coffee professor at a university until I created my own coffee Academy. It's called the Latin American coffee Academy. And I've helped students from around the world to learn about coffee. In fact, I live in a coffee producing country. I live in Colombia. So the next time you have a delicious cup of Colombian coffee, please think of me and enjoy your cup. So in this class, I'm going to help empower you with, you need to know to be able to create these unforgettable experiences. And then how you can help the people that you love to join you in that. And it's something that's going to bond you even more. And so let's get started discovering new tastes and flavors. 2. Secrets of coffee professionals: So now we're gonna talk about how coffee professionals know if coffee is good or not. Because when they sit down to do a copying session, they have to know if coffee is good or not. Now you might be asked yourself when the morals and cutting session, or coffee cupping is the industry term, just means coffee, tea, steam, but it's what's used in the industry. And so you'll be hearing me talk about coffee, coffee, coffee tastings. I use them interchangeably. There are differences with it, but for the purpose of this course, it's fine. You can call it a copy and if you want to impress your friends, you can call it a tasty If you want your friends to understand you. And so why is this important? What you think about it? Let's think of a coffee shop in Philadelphia. And so they need to find the very best coffee for their customers. How do they do that? Because notice any cough, it's gotta be the coffee that their customers are really going to like. And so what they're gonna do is they're going to have professional coffee tasters, people that are dedicated to just tasting coffee. And they're going to maybe if, if companies large enough, they're gonna send them out around the world maybe to try different coffees. Now, a professional coffee tea, Easter, a copper. And in a day they might try 25 coffee's, 50 coffees or, or more. How do they know what they're looking for? What's a good coffee? How can they remember what they tasted? How can evaluate so many coffees? And then no, at the end, which one they want to buy. So thankfully, the Specialty Coffee Association, which is a worldwide Association, they provided guidelines for that. And the guidelines are really strict and I'm going to go into all of them now because they're super strict, but they have made a list of all the main characteristics of coffee that should be judged and how they should be judged. So what will a coffee cup or a professional coffee t-shirt do? Well, here I have the form, the kind of form that they'll use, and this one's for a particular company. Each company will have their own form. And so what a copper will do is help put it on a clipboard. And who goes through the taste dean or the copied, and he'll be writing down his impressions of each coffee. So each column is a different coffee. And within each column you see all these little boxes. Each one is a different characteristic of the coffee. And so this involves math. It's not easy. And it requires a lot of training to use. Don't, don't worry. We're not going to use it in this, in this course. So what we're gonna be using in this course, Excuse me. And are these little tasting sheets for my company flavors Ebola. So these TC sheets kind of achieves the same thing, but in a fun way. And so that's what we'll be doing to be able to evaluate all the characteristics of coffee. I've provided this in, in, in the course. So you can feel free to download it. You can either print it or just view it, whatever you'd like to do. And in a minute we'll be going over each of these characteristics in a lot of detail because that's how you can evaluate coffee. Now I do want to say a quick word about coffee. We recommend that you brew these coffees. Are, you cut these coffees. Lack the, you don't add knocker sugar. Because Knock and sugar change, change the TCE that you're going to find in the cup. And so we recommend that you taste the coffee the way the farmers intended the coffee to be consumed, which is black. So you can appreciate all the qualities and beautiful. Now afterwards, if you want to add milk, you want to add any kinda sweetener that's your choice. There's certainly nothing wrong with drinking coffee, with milk. I love a frothy cappuccino just as much as anybody else does. But for the purpose of copying in determining the quality, evaluating the quality of coffee, you want to have the coffee black. So now that we've done this, we're gonna go into the next video which is going to go over, start going over the different characteristics of coffee. We're not we're not going to start growing coffee or drink in it. Yeah. I mean, you can do it. You can do it another time. But for the purposes of this course, are still going to be getting the education. So that when you do have a cup of coffee in front of you, you're going to prepare the prepared to evaluate it like a pro. So see you in the next video. 3. Ways Coffee Professionals Evaluate Coffee: Now we're gonna get into the really fun part because we're gonna get into the characteristics that will be looking for in coffee. So when I say characteristics, I mean different kind the qualities that a coffee has. And so we're gonna get into the full list. And so you have these tasting sheets that you can download, view, maybe on your phone, your tablet, your computer, or you can print them and actually rate on them whatever works for you. And so inside, you will find the list of characteristics that we're going to consider that's important for specialty coffee or the better quality coffee that we're gonna be drinking throughout this course. So what's the first one? If you look there, it says coffee shop. That's not characteristic, but it is important for you to view, to take notes. You need to know what coffee shop or what coffee company or what roaster the coffee was froms you can write it down there. The region. So what area the coffee is from? Now, you're cut your bags of coffee might just say in Colombia or El Salvador or Ethiopia. Or worse yet, it was the Asia or Africa or Latin America, which is absolutely horrible because each country in each region in the country is different. We're not going to go into this in this course because it's short. But the regions are really, really important. If you want to learn more about that. That's my ticket. Clear. My dog barking limits cappuccino and she wants to participate in the course to maybe later I'll bring around so you guys can meter Anyway. So the region is very important. So write down as much as the bag will tell you about it. The next point is variety. And that is not a characteristic either. And so what's the variety all about? So the variety is the kinda coffee it is. So we talked about species and we talk about varieties. If your bag housing about it, write it down. After that we do get into the characteristics of coffee. And so we're gonna break these down into different videos. You can really concentrate on each one. And so I'll see you in the next video to talk about fragrance and aroma. 4. The first two: The next characteristics on the sheet are fragrance and aroma. And when you look at that, you might be asking yourself, is not the same thing. Fragrance and aroma, aren't they the same thing? They're not, not in the coffee world. So what's fragrance and aroma? Obviously, it's the way the coffee smells ray, but fragrance is the dry coffee, and aroma is the wet coffee. So when you have just ground your coffee, you can appreciate the fragrance. You wanna take him in and just breathe in. And try to understand what the coffee is telling you. The coffee is speaking to you and it's telling you about itself. I consider the fragrance to be kinda like the handshake. The coffee is, you're meeting the coffee or the coffee is meeting you for the first time. It's telling you, hello, this is me, this is who I am. Get to know me. And so the fragrance, what you should be looking for in a fragrance is, is it sweet? Is it fruity? Is it intense that rather light chocolaty, those kinds of things that are going to give you some hints about what the coffee's going to taste like. Now aroma, like I says, the wet coffee sits a coffee as it's brewing or just after it's been Brune. And it's the same thing you want to, you know, you want to get in the smell and think about it. The same, the same questions you can ask yourself the same questions as it. Is it sweet? Is it intense? Does it seem a bit fruity? Obit Heart is a super chocolate ears at 90. And so that's at fragrance and aroma and they're an important part of evaluating the whole coffee cup. And so those are important. Alright, in the next video, we'll move onto the next characteristic. 5. This one may surprise you: So the next characteristic on the list is body. And you can be like this. Coffee of a body. Cannot drink, have a body. Will coffee does have a body. And so when we talk about body, we talk about mouthfeel. And what Mao field is is simply how it feels in your mouth, has a feeling your tongue, how does it, how does it feel in your palate? And so with coffee, the basics are it can be light, it can be medium, or it can be heavy. Now if you're asking yourself, how can, how can the body of coffee be light? You can just think of something that's very light. Another liquid that used to consuming as water, very light. Now on the other end of the scale would be yogurt, not the coffee gets that heavy, but yogurt will be something that's heavy in your mouth. Milk would be somewhere in between water and yogurt. And so that gives you the idea. And if you want, you can do that exercise. You can get some wiring, gets a milking, gets some yogurt. If you can have dairy septum and feel them in your mouth, what's the mouthfeel? How heavy is the why and how late is the other? Now, what should you be writing down on these sheets when you, when you try to coffee it. So you want to write down if it's late, if it's media and heavy, you can get a little bit creative with it. You can see that it's chewy. If it's super heavy, you can see that T Lake if it's super late. And so you, you will be the one to decide he get creative with the descriptors. There. 6. This is the hard one to understand: The next characteristic on the list, brightness. And you can be like, oh my goodness, is it a lightbulb? No, we're not talking about that kind of brightness. So brightness is one of the most difficult things for people to understand about coffee. One of the reasons is because the lower quality coffee doesn't have any brightness. And so people aren't necessarily used to determining the brightness in, in a cup of coffee. So what is brightness? Brightness is a sensation that you feel when you drink the coffee. And you feel it along the sides of your tongue. And it's kinda something goes pop in your mouth. When you try the coffee for the first time. It's a tiny bit tartar crisp. Although it's not a flavour, it's a sensation. And so really you have tried a lot of coffees to get this down right. And so we welcome you to do that. You have to focus on better quality coffees to be able to find brightness in them. And brightness is something that coffee professionals talk a lot about. Scott brightness and Pencils Called acidity. I don't use acidity in most of my courses just because people can confuse it with maybe kind of like acid or sour stomach kinda of reaction. And so I don't use acidity. Brightness is something that's easier for people to understand. And so it is one of those prized things in coffee, the coffee professionals who go on and on about it. Now, for these, for the purposes of this course, and what you wanna do is you want to try the coffee and then you're going to be keeping, keeping an eye out for that feeling that you get along the sides of your tongue. And if it's ambiguous, kind of pop in your mouth. And it's an exciting thing when you do find it. And kinda, I compare the brightness in coffee to Guatemala. I know it sounds weird, but just bear with me. And so if you've ever made Whac-A-Mole on, so you know, you start out with avocados, you mash them and if you taste them at that point, they don't taste like much because really bear avocados and he's like a lot. But when you add a little bit of lime juice to it, suddenly the flavors go pop. The acidity in the lime or that brightness brings alive the flavors of the avocado. And that's a brightness does for coffee. It actually comes from an asset. It's clergy tannic acid. There's naturally occurring, nothing, nothing weird is added to it. It's a naturally occurring acid. In coffee end. It gives that coffee, that pop, that's really cool. And so that's what you want to be looking for. Now what you write down on a sheet, you can just write down, up pleasant or unpleasant, or if it has any or not, you can write that it's low or high, or you can get creative. And you can say that it's bright or crisp or part or complex. So you can get creative there with your description of brightness. 7. This one is easier: You'll see on the list that the next attribute or characteristic of coffee that will be evaluating a sweetness, sourness is actually pretty simple. So it comes after the hard ones, social good. And simply how sweet the coffee is. It's not sweet tastes. We'll be getting into that leader. It's simply how sweet the coffee is. So what you're gonna wanna do with this one is take a sip of the coffee and think about it. How sweet is this Coffee? And what you want to be looking for is, if it balances out the brightness, which it should do, and good-quality coffee's should always be sweet enough. You shouldn't be asking yourself, where's the Sugar Bowl? And so that sweetness is very important. You should find good sweetness in a good quality coffee. 8. The fun one: And the next one is flavor. And so flavors really exciting and we have this flavor wheel for you that you can download and view or print whatever you'd like to do with it. And it's going to help you with that idea of finding flavors in coffee is probably as one of the most exciting characteristics and people love to go on and on about it. So this is very cool and it is super cool when you sit down with your friends for a coffee and you sip it and you say, this has a tangerine like Citrus NO2 it with some chocolate undertones. And anybody finish that impresses your friends. So this is something to get into. So how do you use the flavor wheel? So the basic idea is just to kind of nudge your brain into being able to put a word to what you're tasting. Because when you taste the coffee, you might be a little hard to see. It's like coffee. But as you think about it more, you know, your taste in something else. But how do you, how do you really pinpoint? And that's the idea of this flavor wheel. And so the idea is to look around the wheel and finds the characteristics. So if you sip your coffee and you're like, It's chocolaty, and so you go to chocolate, or maybe you'll find several different flavors. So it could be chocolate in it can have a sweet flavor like vanilla, and it can be a bit naive, and it can be a little bit spicy too. So that's really cool. So you want to take your time, let your imagination go wild with this, find all the flavors that you possibly can. Now, once you've said that a taste like chocolate, then you can go further with e-book or kind of chocolate. So you look on the wheel and you say, Oh, chocolate hipped, Yes, taste like chocolate hint. Or you say, oh, it's like milk chocolate. Or if it's fruity. Since coffee is the seed inside a fruit, there's lot of fruity flavors and good-quality coffee. And so you can say, well its secrecy. And you can go a little further and say what kind of citrus? Oh, it's tangerine. It's, it's Lemon. It's lime. Or maybe there's a, there's a hint apples in this, well kinda Apple is a green apple, wears a red apple. So that's the idea with the flavor, we'll get as creative as you want also is the coffee cools. You're going to find other flavors in from around the wheel. So give us some time, keep, keep trying it as the coffee cools. Now on, this can be hard to do. So when I do workshops, in-person workshops. 9. This one brings it all into harmony: So the next characteristic on our little list here is balance. You can like how can a, how can a coffee be balanced, like tires that you have to balance them? And so what the idea is with a balanced cup of coffee is it should, the characteristics that we've already mentioned should be in balance. And so the last characteristics that we mentioned, starting with body, brightness, sweetness and flavor should all work together in harmony. And if they do that, then they are, then it's a balanced cup. Give me like, well, how do I know? Basically when you try the coffee, if it's not balanced, you'll know it right away because maybe it's going to be extremely bright and not sweet enough. It's not balanced. Or if the flavors are really strong and really intense. But there's almost no body knows that wouldn't go together either. And so you can pretty much know right away with if it's unbalanced cup or not. And you can just write down yes or no for balanced come. The next characteristic is our last characteristic. So it's an exciting one. It's one that people often overlook. So I'll see you in the next video. 10. The last one that lingers: So we've come to the final one. And what is it if you look on your list, its finish. So what is, what is the finish in coffee? What's the last 15 to 30 seconds after you have this sip your coffee or the slippery here. 11. Steps to take to Organize an Incredible Coffee Tasting: Now that you know, all the elements of a coffee tasting, you know, they'll want to share your knowledge with your friends. Now, a coffee tt is a fantastic way to both explore new coffees and also to develop your ability to discovering characteristics in coffee. And like I mentioned before, it's an amazing way to bond with family, with friends, with co-workers as you work together to figure out what flavors and other characteristics you can find in the coffee. Now in this video and also the next one. And then I'll touch on a lot of the basics you need to set up your coffee t's d. So what are those steps? The first step is pretty obvious. You can invite your friends, your coworkers, your family, to your coffee t's d. Now this can be an impersonal activity or it can also be a virtual one. If you have a mind doing a virtual one at the end of this video, we'll go over a few tips for that. Now, how many people should you invite? Well, you don't want it to be too crowded. I have done teachings with up to 20 people, but it can be a challenge to brew the coffee and also give everyone a chance to taste it and to share their opinions about it. So I really recommend between 310 people for an impersonal T steam for virtual tastings. You wanna keep in mind the number of people that you can see on the screen all at one time. The next step is to decide on which coffee you're going to use. Now, you can mix it up. You can maybe choose by species or variety. Might take a little bit of investigation for you to know what that is. In my slurp fast course, I go over species and varieties. Another easier way perhaps, to determine which coffees to use is you could do it by country or by a certain region in a certain country. Or you could simply choose a roaster and choose different coffees from that row story, or you can choose from different registries. So how do you choose the brewery method for the coffee? Generally, you do want to brew these different coffees that you have in the same brewing method so that you get the same results. However, it's an interesting experiment to brew the coffee in different bromine methods. In this slide you can see a French press over to the left and then in the middle you see a V6. And then up to the right you see a safe. And so it is interesting to see how the brewery methods changed the coffees. That is, you can do that another time if you want. Now to figure out which burrowing method would be the best for you. You can go to Latin American coffee and just search in a search bar, bar for blowing methods. There you'll find a video that will walk you through choosing the best method for you. Now, to make it simple, you could just start out with a French press because they're easy to use and inexpensive. As an alternative, you can breathe coffee the way, the way they do for professional coffee copies. So how do you do that? You can see that in this slide in that middle picture, that's what's happening now is that as professional coffee, caffeine, and this is how they brew it. What they do is they get a cub or maybe a whiskey glass. They put 17 grams of coffee in the bottom of the glass and then they simply pour the water over it. And so you don't want boiling water, you want to be just under the boil. And then you wait ten minutes. Now, crust is going to form on the top. You can see it there. And you'll need to gently remove that with the spoons. You can see on the right-hand side is just about to remove that crust with the spoon to just breathe in, in their great aroma there. And so just to taste the coffee when you do that kind of thing, you just want to put the spoon in and then slurp rate from this spoon. And so it's an easy way to get everybody taste in the same exact coffee without having to go through a brewing method. So you can try to do it the way the professionals do. I also recommend doing a blind tasting where nobody knows except you. Were the coffee came from what roaster came from, what country he came from. So you wanna do it blind this contest. Everybody's ability to determine basic tasting coffee, for instance, is that coffee that tastes like blueberries desire from Nicaragua or from Ethiopia? Is that spicy coffee from Jamaica or from India? Is that coffee that teeth like raspberries from Indonesia or Columbia. So there can be a lot of surprises at the end, this is really fun. Once you've brewed coffee, used the tasting sheet and a flavor wheel to walk your friends through the characteristics of the coffee. Makes sure that each person has their own tasting sheet. It can be printed out or they can view it on their device and make sure that they have the flavor wheel to guide them to find those flavours. And you can feel free to use the videos in this course as a guide for your friends to plan your virtual activity. It is neither share ahead of time with the participants what they're going to need. So they're going to need the coffee. And so be great if you're all TCGA seem coffee. And to just share with them where you bought the coffee, you can even send them samples of coffee. It can be as little 17 grams of each coffee so that they can sample it with you. You also need to tell them what brewing method if you're going to use a French press or if you're gonna go with the professional. Tft method, also makes sure they have the tasting sheets and a flavor wheel, which again, they can print it out, print them out, or they can view them on their device. 12. How you can organize an incredible coffee tasting: Now that you know how to TCE coffee, you're probably wanting to share this information with friends and family. And one of the best ways to do that is to organize a coffee tasting. Now, how can you do that? Well, first of all, you want to prepare in advance. And so what you need to prepare is what coffee's you're going to use. And you can organize this in different ways. You could just use coffees from a certain roaster or a certain company. Or you could varied up and do from different registries. You can choose coffees from a certain country or a certain origin. You can use coffees that are certain species or variety. And so you can taste a bunch of pink burdens. For instance, if you have access to pink burdens, or you can choose coffees, all robusta coffees to see what they taste like. So you can vary it up with the species and the variety. Another thing that you can do is to brew indifferent Brian methods or so you can just choose one coffee and then prepare it in three or four different brewery methods. You'll see what each bro method does to that one. Coffee that once he had coffee and it's extra PR, Fascinating to do that, I definitely recommend that you do that. You can do a blind tasting where nobody knows, for instance, what country it's from, or what variety it is, or what roaster it's from, except the person obviously organizing it, which would be you, you'd be in the know. And that way there's an element of surprise and also tests people's abilities to taste. Now there is something to remember during the event. In addition to using the flavor wheel that I've provided and also printing out there the tasting sheets and having everybody use a tasting sheet, one thing you want to keep in mind is that you need silence. And so for coffee, tea Steins while you're here, people slurping. But you don't actually want to share your impressions of the coffee while people are teeth dinner, you wanna give them a chance to taste it, to write down their impressions, hence, the importance of the tasty cheats. And then you can share your opinions. Why is that necessary? Because if we're if we're doing a tasting together and I tell you the such and such coffee tastes like orange peel, then you will say, yeah, it does taste like orange peel. You Ray. You don't want that. You want everybody to decide on their own what flavors, what characteristics that are getting. And then you go over it altogether. And then people can taste the coffee again as you discuss in it. And they'll be discovering new flavors as they do that again. So silence is important and then lots of conversation about it. If you don't have enough brewing methods or you just want to experiment with doing the way the pros do it. Feel free to brew coffee the way they do it in professional coffee copies and it doesn't require any special equipment. And so I have included a PDF of exactly how to do that. You can go over that. It'll give you all the details of exactly how many grams of coffee and of course the water temperature and things like that. So we use, you can find that in the pdf. And the most important thing is to have fun with it is to select a fun. Sometimes people say, Well should we include food parents? And so the problem with food pairings when you're dealing with specialty coffee or coffee has amazing flavors. Is it if you, for instance, serve coffee cake with a coffee? After you have a bite of that coffee cake that maybe had a cinnamon topping on it, then your coffee, such kind of tastes like the sentiment topping that was on the coffee cake. And so you don't wanna do that. It's better just to try the coffee is bare and beautiful and then go over all the characteristics that you find. Now if you do want to include something, food pairings that do work very well are to include nuts, dried fruits, fresh fruit, and chocolate because they have the same notes that you might be testing in the coffee. So before the event you can try to coffees. And if warranties like a cow nibs provides some Krakow needs for the testing. If 1-2-3 garments provide almonds, if you get blueberry notes and you can't blueberries, things like that, that can actually help people to identify the flavors in the cup, but the don't compete with those flavors in the cup. So have fun, happy slurping.