Tasting guide: Taming a new coffee

Dany Marquis

All coffees are created equal, but some are more equal than others. And it all depends on your preparation method: you must keep in mind that each coffee is different and that to extract the aromas perfectly you will have to go through several stages of preparation and adjustment.

And as a roaster, I know that this period of fellowship will eventually give you very pleasant results. However, several parameters are at play in your preparation and this requires a little effort, which will become a positive process in your approach.

I bring this up because we have some really high quality coffees in stock, which we, not to mention the producers, have put a lot of effort into. But once they reach our customers' kitchens, the coffees seem not to deliver their full potential due to poor preparation. And when a customer, after buying a bag of Cup of Excellence coffee, tells me that it was bland and bitter, I tell myself that the fight is not over. I explain to them that this coffee has been tasted at least 600 times by professional and independent tasters and that they have classified it among the best coffees in the world, in the top 10. That's no small thing!

In this situation, I then take all the diplomacy that is required to let them know that their preparation is inappropriate or simply poorly done. In this situation, some clients demonstrate openness and others do not.

Tame a new coffee, like a professional

How to tame a new coffee like a true professional?

First of all, I recommend switching to coffee . The one of your choice, and to stay there for several weeks or even a few months (if possible and depending on stocks). This will allow you to know it well and be able to detect the variations that will occur if your technique changes, which will allow you to improve it.

Then, choose a preparation method and stick with it for several months, until you become an expert.


  • A good mill is the most important investment;
  • A kitchen scale;
  • A kettle, ideally with adjustable temperature.
  • Stopwatch (or any tool to measure brewing time)

To begin the meeting between you and your new coffee, start with an initial preparation.

How to get to grips with a new coffee?

Surprise practical exercise: let's make coffee together

Take for example the piston. For a French press, I suggest a ratio of 1:16 up to 1:12 for a lighter roast coffee. Here the starting ratio doesn't matter, since I suggest you keep it until you obtain a perfect cup.

Let's take an average ratio of 1:14 for a 500ml piston, divide by 14 = 35.71g, let's say 36g. You therefore need 36g of ground coffee to prepare 500ml of liquid coffee.

Adjust your grinder to a medium grind and grind the amount of coffee needed.

Remember 1ml of water = 1g of water

  • Turn on the kettle to reach 94°C, once ready, heat the plunger and discard the water.
  • Weigh and add the 36g to the bottom of the plunger, and swirl it to even out the coffee.
  • Start the timer and pour 200g of water over the grounds in 15 seconds.
  • Use a spoon to mix the grounds and swirl for at least 5 seconds to bring the water and coffee into contact.
  • Wait up to 60 seconds.
  • Add the rest of the water, up to 500g in 15 seconds.
  • Install the plunger lifter above the water surface to warm it. Don't rush it right away.
  • Wait up to a total of 5 minutes from the start of the procedure.
  • Lower the plunger and pour immediately.
  • If you don't consume all the coffee right away, pour it into a warmed serving carafe to stop the infusion.

So much for the piston preparation. Now taste your coffee. It's good? Yes, perfect, write down your recipe and repeat it. If it's not to your liking, take notes and you'll adjust for your next preparation.

With the same coffee and repeat exactly the same procedure, adjusting the grind. By changing only one setting at a time, you will have more control over the changes.

Simply, if your coffee is:

  • Bitter: increase the grind by one notch (coarser)
  • Fade: decrease the grind by one notch (finer)
  • And redo the preparation:

You can also work on the quantity of water, or on the infusion time. But if you use the procedure above, adjusting the grind is really the simplest, because for this method (piston), the flavors must be allowed to infuse properly and a time of 5 minutes is correct. You can have fun though, but take it one setting at a time.

I would say that after 5-6 preparations, you will have reached the optimal point of your installation. And you will just have to repeat your recipe.

Subsequently, you can work on another parameter, such as the water/coffee ratio, or the contact time. And after a while, you will even be able to modify two or three parameters at the same time.

It is at this point that you can really taste the terroir of the coffee, and what the roaster wanted to do.

Note that the procedure is essentially the same with the other preparation methods.

Keep in mind that by changing just one setting at a time, you can move forward more efficiently in your search for the perfect cup.

Subsequently, you will really come into contact with your coffee and I invite you to take your knowledge one step further by finding out where the coffee comes from, its country, its region, who produced it? Which farm? What is his rank? What pulping method was used? Fermentation? I warn you, there is a whole world hiding behind your cup.

And do not hesitate to contact us to learn all the richness that this noble beverage can offer.

Danny Marquis


  • Marié-Eve Pelchat

    Merci pour cet article !! J’adore votre travail de qualité et j’adore ma tasse de café le matin grâce à vous!!!

  • Charles Bellavance

    Merci pour ces précisions !

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published