Palate Training

Chocolate Palate Training: Class Recap by Caleb Savage

Last weekend we hosted a chocolate palate training and discussed how environmental factors impact the taste and quality of coffee!

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Using our Dick Taylor chocolate bars, we tried chocolates from Belize, Brazil, Madagascar, and a 58% milk chocolate bar using the same chocolate from Madagascar! Like coffee, the taste of chocolate can vary based on where the plant is grown, how the cacao or coffee bean is harvested and cared for, and how the product is roasted and prepared to be served.

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Afterwards, we compared the chocolates to KLLR Coffee’s Guatemala Ranferi Morales, a coffee from Southwestern Guatemala with a sweet milk chocolate body and tart grape acidity.

Curious about coffee growing and processing? Check out our overview on coffee from seed to cup!

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Palate Training: Berries Recap by Steve Willingham

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We had a great time hosting our third palate training at the shop today! Focusing on Sun-Dried Processing and Berries, Aria and Caleb walked through the basics of how we taste, coffee processing, and then compared the different berries to each other and KLLR Coffee’s Sun-Dried Ethiopia!

We use palate trainings as a way to share coffee with friends and demystify the idea that tasting notes in coffee is only for real coffee drinkers. Your palate is shaped by the foods you like and don’t like, the experiences you’ve had, and the number of coffees you’ve drank.

How We Taste


Aria took us back to Elementary school to remind us of the five parts of taste (sour, sweet, salty, bitter, & savory or umami) and then discussed how aromatics, tactile sensations like body or mouthfeel, and involuntary reactions like puckering can influence our perception of taste. In short, blueberries taste like our perception of blueberries. If we think critically about what we are tasting: examining the sourness, sweetness, aroma, etc. of each item, we can relate the different attributes of that food to things like wine, cheese, or coffee!

Sun-Dried Processing

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Processing refers to the process of transforming coffee from coffee cherry to coffee bean, ready to be roasted. In the Sun-Dried process, coffee cherries are picked and dried on raised beds with the fruit still attached to seeds. This drying process imparts wild flavors onto the beans that are vibrant, juicy, and sweet.


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Class Recap: Citric Acidity Palate Training by Caleb Savage

For our second palate training, we tackled citrus fruit and acidity in coffee! After a quick recap on how we taste, we used World Coffee Research’s Sensory Lexicon to identify the differences between lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit and how they related to the types of acidity found in coffee.

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A Palatable Consensus

Our ability to describe what we taste in unique. Each person’s likes, dislikes, allergies, experiences, and preferences all shape their understanding of how and what they perceive from the characteristics of what they are trying to describe. For instance, someone with a nut allergy may never describe a coffee as tasting nutty in a positive way or even be able to describe the difference in taste between a pecan or an almond. This is what makes palate trainings so helpful! By being able to compare like foods to each other, groups of people can begin to expand and develop their palate based on the experiences and palates of each other.

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Acid: Flavor Enhancer

Although coffee is only a mildly acidic beverage (with a pH of 5), the various acids present in coffee help showcase the relationship between the notes of coffee and the growing conditions and farming practices of the farm and country in which the coffee originated.

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Some fun facts about specific acids and their relationship with coffee:

Citric acid occurs naturally in coffee plants as a byproduct of photosynthesis.

Phosphoric acid is only found in coffees grown in phosphorus-rich soil and is responsible for the sparkling-sweet acidity so often found in East African coffees.

Chlorogenic Acid degrades rapidly during the roasting process but is one of the easiest acids to perceive in coffee. Why does a lighter-roasted coffee taste more acidic than a darker-roasted coffee? Chlorogenic Acid.

Shout out to Driftaway's blog and to Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood's The Coffee Dictionary for the resources used for this class.

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Palate Training Recap by Steve Willingham

We had a great time this afternoon tasting and talking about flowers and coffee at our first Palate Training! This class kicks off a series of events we’re hosting to grow the coffee community in Oklahoma City. We talked about what happens as we taste and how we can better discern levels of the various parts of taste, why we use the Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel, and got to put our knowledge to use on some floral notes and some KLLR Coffee!


Here’s a little recap below:

How We Taste

In school we were taught the five parts of taste: sweet, salty, sour, savory, & bitter. Our taste is also affected by aromatics, the smells associated with the drink or food, tactile sensations like body or mouthfeel, and trigeminal sensations like spice or cooling, acidity or astringency. All of these things play a role in determining how we taste what we consume. However, this would be a very in-depth and slightly boring sell to anyone looking to get into coffee. Hello Flavor Wheel.


Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel

Thanks to World Coffee Research and the Specialty Coffee Association, we can discuss coffee in terms that are descriptive, quantifiable, and replicable. With over 110 different aromas, flavors, and textures, the flavor wheel makes it easy to categorize tastes by giving a concept like “rose” to a more complex description like “soft, slightly sweet, & aromatic.”

We had a ton of fun getting to compare the flowers like chamomile and jasmine and talk about the way these notes might appear in coffee. Be sure to talk to one of our baristas to learn more about palate training and how to better develop your palate!


We are looking forward to hosting our next class on November 11th. If you’re interested, contact us here to be one of the first to know about our next class!