Savour the flavour

Savour the flavour

Coffee, one of the world's most popular drinks, has little secrets to help you enjoy its natural taste


Rai Santosh (right) teaches Winnie Lee how to enjoy coffee
Rai Santosh (right) teaches Winnie Lee how to enjoy coffee
Photos: Nora Tam/SCMP
To those who drink coffee simply for its caffeine, you're missing out. Why chug down a work of art for one of its side-effects when you can enjoy everything about it, from its appearance and aroma, to its taste and aftertaste?

Rai Santosh, technical and training specialist for Metadesign's Lavazza Hong Kong Training Centre in Aberdeen, says a real coffee lover has to prepare to enjoy a great cup of coffee.

"Make sure ... there are no leftover tastes in your mouth to distract you. It's also important to have no extra smells around you because it could ruin the coffee's aroma and your enjoyment," says Santosh. Some cafes even provide each customer with a small glass of sparkling water to rinse out any remaining taste in your mouth.

Secondly, have a light meal before drinking any coffee, especially espresso. "If you don't, the acidity of the coffee will upset your stomach, which may harm your health. This is the reason some cafes provide biscuits alongside the cappuccino or chocolate for espresso," Santosh says. "Cappuccino will give you the feeling of fullness in the morning because it contains milk, and espresso is normally drunk after a meal because it helps digestion. Some people start the day with a cup of cappuccino and end it with an espresso."

The last mission goes to both the barista (person who makes the cup) and the customer: "Coffee should be served and drunk shortly after it is made."

Once the barista delivers the cup of coffee you have ordered, to tell whether it is "perfect", you should follow three simple steps: observe, smell, and taste.

Winnie learns how to make different types of coffee.

With espresso, first observe its upper layer of the coffee foam that every serving has. A nice cup of espresso should look dark brown, with a thick, silky layer of "creama" floating on top.

The next thing is to smell it. All coffee, more or less, should have a strong and intensive scent. "High-quality Espresso should have a long-lasting aroma that fills the room," says Santosh.

Last but not least is to take a sip of your cup of coffee. The taste should be balanced between bitter and sour. Espresso is a "full-body flavour", meaning that it should stay in your mouth at least one to two minutes after you've swallowed.

In contrast, the aroma of "light-bodied" drinks, such as water, will fade away as soon as you swallow it. "You'd better finish it in two to three sips when the coffee is still warm and is full of refreshing aroma," Santosh says. The optimal time of tasting a regular espresso should not exceed two minutes, while that for cappuccino and latte [about 200ml], should be within five minutes, depending on the serving size. This is to make sure that you drink your coffee while it is still warm.

To boost sales, many coffee chain stores have launched seasonal drinks such as Frappuccino, Green Tea Latte, Ginger Mocha and so on, but Santosh insists: "Let's drink coffee as it is. We should drink it in the natural way."

For those who have just started drinking coffee, Santosh advises: "Cappuccino is the best for beginners ... as it has a very well-balanced flavour with one shot of espresso and sugary, caramelised milk. If they start with black coffee or espresso, they may not want to drink the next cup any more."

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