Coffee, that ubiquitous morning beverage. Does it taste as good as it smells? What does it taste like, and how do you make it delicious? We're answering these questions below as well as giving you some tips on how to select, brew and doctor up your coffee for the optimal flavor.
Let's dive right in...
What Does Coffee Taste Like?
There are two basic levels of coffee tasting. If you've never had coffee before, the first step is getting the idea of what it tastes like in general: deeply earthy, a bit bitter and at least somewhat roasty and toasty.
The second level of coffee tasting involves getting the essence of each type of bean. Coffee beans come from all over the globe, with every environment producing different flavor profiles.
For example, Central American coffee beans tend to be nutty, smooth and chocolaty while African coffees are famous for bright, mouthwatering acidity and fruity notes, including blueberry, lemon and lime.
Then there's the roast. In mildly roasted coffees, the individual tasting notes of the coffee beans are accentuated, whether they're juicy and floral or deep and chocolaty. Medium roasts are darker and taste a bit more roasty while dark roasts tend to be very smoky and earthy.
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What Is the Taste of Black Coffee?
To get the qualities of each type of coffee bean and roast, some people prefer to drink their coffee black. In this case, coffee will taste the way we've just described it with no added sweetness.
The other common way of drinking coffee, which is with some sort of creamer (like soy, almond or coconut creamer), produces a thick, rich beverage that tastes creamy and takes on some of the flavor of whatever type of creamer you're using.
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What Does Starbucks Coffee Taste Like?
Starbucks fans love the company's darkly roasted coffee beans. Though it offers different kinds of roasts, Starbucks tends to favor deeper, darker roasts, even for the "lighter" options.
You may find Starbucks coffees to be particularly strong and smoky (note that we're talking about the drip coffee—not the lattes and other whipped-up beverages, most of which are not specifically vegan, anyway).
If you've never had coffee before, you may want to start with a light roast from a small mom-and-pop coffee shop before you work your way up to trying Starbucks roasts.
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How Do I Like Coffee?
Coffee is just one of those things you either like or you don't. Not many people can take it or leave it—it either becomes a ritualistic part of every day or it's something you avoid altogether.
If you haven't found yourself enjoying black coffee, Starbucks or some other type of coffee but you'd really like to, it could be a simple matter of finding the right region, roast and creamer.
Do you like tart, citrusy foods and beverages? Try a lightly roasted African coffee like Ethiopia. If you love mild, nutty flavors, go with a Colombian coffee. And of course, if you're a smoky fan, stick with dark roasts.
If you're brewing at home, be careful not to use too much ground coffee. The ratio of coffee to hot water is important in ensuring that you won't get an overly extracted, bitter-tasting drink.
Otherwise, experiment with sugar and/or vegan creamers both flavored and unflavored. Califia Farms makes vegan creamers like Hazelnut, Vanilla and Mint Cocoa that are downright decadent.
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Coffee Serving Tips
Nowadays, there are more ways of brewing coffee than you might imagine, and each technique comes with its own advantages in terms of coffee tasting. Check out the video below for the pour-over method, which brings out clean flavors, especially in milder roasts.
For this brew method, you'll need ground coffee (preferably fresh), hot water (just off-boil for best results), a pour-over dripper and a filter. It's a little more involved than making a pot of coffee, but if you want to get all the nuanced flavors, this method will help.
Making your own vegan creamer can be super fast and easy. Here's an incredibly rich recipe with light coconut milk, agave, vanilla extract and sea salt. Alternatively, you can check out cashew and almond milk creamers, which take a little longer as you usually need to soak the nuts, but trust us. The luxuriously creamy and delicious results are worth it.
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Coffee is a complex beverage. While it's true that all coffees share that certain deep, roasty flavor, coffee flavors vary with roast, region and even soil environment. If black coffee isn't your thing, you're far from alone. There are plenty of delicious vegan creamers made from coconut, soy, almond milk and other plant-based ingredients that'll turn your coffee into a dessert-like treat you'll look forward to every morning. Unsurprisingly, homemade creamers usually taste the best, so get your blender ready!
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