I am in the process of purchasing my next bag of coffee. It's a huge deal, because it is a major investment. It will literally clear my bank account out. I need this coffee to good...and not just pretty good....it needs to be Damn Fine.
I love this, but it's hard. I only have 100g of 4 different coffee to make my decision on. These are the things I'm wrestling with....
Potential: 100g is enough for only 1 batch. In that single roast batch I need to taste it and determine the potential of the coffee. Will it be good light roasted? Dark roasted? Hot? Cold? Can I use it to blend with? Can I get different profiles for different roasts? In about 3 cups of coffee, I need to be able to predict everything I can do with this bean for the next 6 months or so.
Flavor: I spend a lot of time sitting there looking at my flavor wheel asking myself, "What the hell am I tasting?" Chocolates seem to be something I am fairly comfortable identifying (but who isn't?). The hard part is determining the type of acidity and if there is a secondary (or multiples) flavor note and what that might be. Then there are the defects. Being able to discern between a bad flavor from the bean and a bad flavor from the roast is probably a little beyond my ability to taste.
The difference: When you have 4 different cups in front of you and you are drinking and writing notes, it is incredibly difficult to remove previous experiences and taste what is actually in the cup. I had a Colombian coffee that what amazing and I want this one to taste like that, but it isn't the same bean. They also start to blend together. I'm tasting 4 coffees all with a similar profile (according to the importer I'm buying from). They are all similar, so when I pick up something in one cup and there is something close to it in the other, my brain just lumps them all together.
I absolutely love doing this and I learn so much each time I do. I would really like to find someone who is really good at this to help me. I really like having another brain to bounce things off of. For now, it's just me and my wife and I hope I make the right decision.