Every coffee has many different faces, and a vertical coffee tasting is a good way to introduce yourself -- and a few friends -- to several of those faces at once. All you need is some friends, a great coffee, a bunch of coffee cups and few different coffee brewers. Specialty coffee shops often do vertical tastings with staff to help them determine the best way to brew a new roast, but you don't have to be a coffee pro to have fun with coffee. Here's what you need to know to host a vertical tasting of your own.
What's a Vertical Coffee Tasting?
At a vertical tasting, the participants -- that's you and your friends -- taste a single coffee brewed by several different methods. That's all there is to it.
What You Need:
- Enough of one coffee to brew several cups each for several friends. We'd recommend one of our weekly coffee specials.
- A good coffee grinder. You'll want one that can dial in the right grind for each coffee brewer.
- Several coffee brewers. You can supply them yourself, but you don't have to. Ask each friend to bring along his or her favorite brewing method. Some of the choices might include a Hario V60 dripper, a Kalita Wave, an automatic drip coffee maker and an Aeropress.
- Several coffee cups. You need at least one for each friend, but if you can supply more, you won't have to waste time washing them between brews.
- At least one pouring kettle
- Paper and pencils. If you're feeling really fancy, you can print out these neat coffee scorecards to give you a starting point on rating and describing your coffees.
What to Do
- Invite friends to bring their favorite coffee brewer to a coffee tasting.
- Acquire 1-2 lbs. of an interesting coffee. Check out our weekly specials for our current recommendations.
- When you're ready to start the tasting, put water on to boil for manual drippers.
- Grind enough coffee to brew a pot or several cups of coffee. You don't have to have everyone tasting the same brewing method at the same time. Just make sure that each friend gets to taste each of the brewing methods over the course of the evening.
- Taste the coffee and make notes on your scorecards. You can compare notes now, or wait until everyone has had a chance to taste each method.
- Repeat the brewing until each of your friends has tasted a cup of coffee brewed using each method.
- Compare notes.
We'd love to hear about your experiences with vertical coffee tasting. Drop us a note in the comments and let us know what you learned!