Lockdown Unlocks Coffee Flavours At Home
September 09, 2020

Lockdown Unlocks Coffee Flavours At Home

Recent job loss announcements by Costa Coffee, Pret A Manger and other coffee chains suggest UK coffee consumers are slow to return to their former café habits. But, this new at-home coffee making trend is helping consumers develop a new appreciation for the subtle flavours of their coffee.

During lockdown, Allegra Strategies reported 42% of UK consumers were missing cafés, the second-most missed activity after seeing family and friends.  However, ongoing concerns over workplace and shop safety means many people continue to work at home if they can, leaving high streets and cafés empty.  These new home coffee habits have not only resulted in exponential sales growth for on-line coffee roasters (thanks everyone we’ve just about kept up!), but, a new appreciation for the flavour of coffee is also emerging through the adoption of brewing methods for coffee drunk with small quantities of milk.

Milk-based coffees, like Lattes, Cappuccinos and Flat Whites have been the most popular out-of-home coffee drinks for many years.  Cafés and coffee shops often use high, or dark roast coffees, with a strong roast flavour, to “cut through” the milk.  The milk masks the flavour of the coffee, so only a very strong flavour derived mainly from the roasting is tasted in these drinks.  But, milk-based espresso drinks are difficult to replicate at home, with people deterred by the space requirements and cost of espresso and bean-to-cup machines and milk frothers.  

At-home coffee consumers have returned to more humble brew methods, including cafetieres and drippers, to make their brews.  And with these methods, the flavours of the coffees are more easily discerned, especially when paired with small quantities of milk.  This probably explains the recent rise in popularity of our medium roast Colombian Huila, which has taken over from our Classic Italian Blend as the second best selling coffee on our website.  It’s a well balanced, single origin coffee with a subtle berry fruit finish, or after-taste, that is perfectly suited to any of the common lockdown home coffee making methods.  It’s second only to our Signature Blend, which also makes lovely cafetiere coffee, in case you haven’t brewed it this way.

Many new “lockdown" Spiller & Tait customers have commented on the great flavours they're discovering in our coffees.  We are happy to take some of the credit for choosing, blending and roasting great tasting coffee!   But, much of this is also down to the fact they are not masking the flavour with large quantities of milk! 

To help you savour the flavour of your coffee made at home, here's an explanation of some of the words commonly used to describe coffee taste.  These words provide a framework to help you assess the main component of coffee flavour, experienced through the nose, mouth and tongue:

Aroma - is the smell of the coffee. The stronger the aroma, the easier it is to detect particular characteristics e.g. smokey, herbal, spicy or fruity. 

Acidity - is the PH, or sharpness of the coffee.  Is it sharp like a lemon, or is it mellow and round like an apple?  The coffee can be high acidity, or low, each affecting the overall taste. 

Body - is the mouthfeel of the coffee, or how it feels in your mouth. Strong mouthfeel is when the coffee is oily and leaves a coating on the tongue. Weak body is when the coffee feels watery.  Many of our coffees are described as “silky", or “syrupy” to reflect our preference for a stronger body. 

Sweetness - is a description of the smoothness of the coffee and refers to the presence of some caramel-like flavour in the coffee, normally detected on the front of the tongue. 

Balance - is the way the above factors interact. Good coffee beans usually present a high level of balance between acidity and mellowness, and they include a complex and satisfying overall aroma and flavour. Coffee with a low balance level would be extreme in one aspect of taste, and the experience would feel shallower.

Finish - is taken from the world of wine tasting.  The term “finish” refers to the taste and sensation left in your mouth after you swallow. Some varieties of coffee have a cocoa or chocolate finish, while others leave an aftertaste of fruit, berries or nuts.

You certainly don’t have to be an expert to really enjoy a cup of coffee you’ve made at home!  And, if milk based coffees from a bean-to-cup espresso machine are your thing, even at home, why not dust off your cafetiere and a grinder and try something different for a change.  Let us know how it goes! 

Great Tasting Spiller & Tait Coffees for Drip and Filter Brewing