Mindful Coffee Tasting Teaches Us How to Experience Coffee

Keen Coffee and Just Breathe joined forces to create a mindful coffee-tasting experience during the Amsterdam Coffee Festival.

BY VASILEIA FANARIOTI
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE

Photos by Jelle Maarten de Vries

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Amsterdam Coffee Festival. It was a great event with plenty of immersive events, demonstrations by world-class baristas, and industry professionals showcasing the latest innovations and technologies.

One of the events I participated in was the Mindful Coffee Tasting. It was a great opportunity to slow down, really savor each cup of coffee, and learn more about the different flavors and aromas that coffee can have. 

More than that, it was a way to understand how to incorporate mindfulness into an everyday habit such as drinking coffee. The event was led by Keen Coffee in collaboration with Just Breathe, a platform sharing meditation and mindfulness practices. 

We spoke with Roderick Schouten, head roaster and quality controller at Keen Coffee, and Avery Bess Putterman, Just Breathe’s producer and meditation facilitator, about why it’s worth taking a moment to be present while enjoying a cup of coffee.

The experience started out with a set of coffee cupping spoons, scoresheets, and cups.

The Tasting Experience

The mindful tasting took place in a private room, away from the hustle and bustle of the festival. As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by a calming atmosphere with soft music playing in the background. 

The table was set with cupping bowls full of coffee beans and grounds, while each attendee was given a scoresheet to note their thoughts on aroma and flavor. Roderick took the chance to explain to us how he and his team incorporate mindfulness when cupping coffees. 

“When we select new coffees, we need to cup them. At the Keen roastery we cup coffees every week, at the same day, same time, no talking, no music, and no other distraction that could influence our taste or perception of taste. This has absolutely helped with tasting coffees better, determining flavors, and adjusting roast profiles.”

Using the Senses

Avery encouraged us to expand our awareness by appreciating elements of the coffee ritual we normally don’t pay much attention to, such as the sound of the beans as they fall in the grinder, the warmth of the cups, and the intricate details of the coffee grounds.

It quickly became clear to me that this was a unique way to taste the coffee. All five senses were engaged as we were encouraged to take deep breaths, slow down, and focus on the sounds, sights, flavors, and aromas during the process.

Finally, we tasted Ethiopian coffee, first in a cupping form and then as an espresso. With our senses heightened, we all noticed that the espresso tasted very different from the cupped coffee. It brought out more subtle flavors such as bergamot, and was pleasantly sweet.

The tasting ended with a discussion regarding what we perceived during the experience, and about how many roasters these days prefer to also evaluate coffee not only based on cupping, but on brewing methods—such as espresso—that are more representative of how the coffee is actually consumed.

Mindfulness and Habits

After the tasting, Avery and I had a chat about how to integrate mindfulness into our everyday habits. 

“We are often moving quite quickly through our lives,” Avery said. “To turn a habit such as coffee drinking into a mindful experience simply requires you to slow down. It doesn’t need to be a long process! Take a few short moments: Look at the beans before you grind them, smell the ground coffee before you brew, and of course there is always the practice of really savoring the first sip.”

Participants were encouraged to pay attention to other sensory details like touch, sound, and sight while cupping.

Mindfulness is not a concept that requires hard focus or a lot of time. As Avery put it, we create new habits best by combining them with pre-existing ones. Slowing down to be in the moment can easily be integrated into our daily lives—especially with the help of coffee, a drink that certainly deserves our attention and appreciation.

If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness and how to integrate it into your everyday life, be sure to check out the Just Breathe app. For a limited time, you can visit this page and use the code BARISTA for one month of free full access. The code is active through the end of May.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vasileia Fanarioti (she/her) is a freelance copywriter and editor with a primary focus on the coffee niche. She has also been a volunteer copywriter for the I’M NOT A BARISTA NPO, providing content to help educate people about baristas and their work. You can follow her adventures at thewanderingbean.net.

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