Hosting a Coffee Tasting

Hosting a Coffee Tasting

Stop and smell the coffee! When isn’t a good time to pause and relax with good friends? Make your next gathering—4 to 6 girlfriends is ideal—a coffee tasting.

Discover just how to organize the coffee tasting and weigh up the differences in the coffees you choose to taste. And, discover our easy ideas for hosting tasting parties with daytime treats and evening sweets!

Coffee 101

  • Roasting brings out the flavor of the coffee bean.  The longer the roast, the darker and stronger-flavored the coffee.

  • Roasting varies depending on the roastmaster (the person who roasts the beans to their fully developed flavor), the type of bean and the market the coffee will eventually go into.

  • Here are some popular coffees listed from lightest to darkest roast:  Antigua, Guatemala, Columbia, Kenya, Hawaiian Kona, Costa Rica, Sumatra, Italian Roast, French Roast, Jamaican Blue Mountain.

  • Sample them until you find four you’d like to try.  Leave the flavored coffees for another time. Your local coffee spot—particularly if they roast their own beans—can give you plenty of advice.

  • Select coffee based on time of day tasting is held, flavors new to you, best decafs, free-trade selections or best values at certain price.  Make it fun; make it a reflection of you!

  • When you taste, start with the lightest roast and end with the darkest roast.  Pour small tasting portions.  Have cool water to clear palates between tastes.

How Much Is Enough

  • Four different coffees, one-half pound beans for each.  Grind if have coffee grinder (or purchase freshly ground coffee the day before the tasting).

  • One or two ‘taste treats’ to enjoy following the tasting.  Use our suggestions, if you like. Or search recipes with words like coffee, ‘espresso,’ ‘café au lait,’ ‘cappuccino’ and ‘mocha.’  Most are yummy chocolate treats!

  • Need a switch from chocolate? Look for recipes with hazelnuts, caramel and vanilla.  Coffee goes great with these flavors, too.

Make the Most of Your Time

  • Collect an extra coffeemaker and thermal containers (1 per coffee tasted).   Borrow from friends or neighbors.

  • Color code or number each coffee choice with corresponding coffeemaker, thermal container and set of cups.  You want to keep this straight!

  • Early in the day or evening before, prepare the delectable ‘taste treat’ you’ve chosen.

  • Brew each coffee 30 to 40 minutes before tasting.

  • Brew each coffee using 2 tablespoons of freshly ground coffee and 6 ounces of fresh cold water per cup.  Make 8 cups each.  You’ll want some to taste and some for enjoying with the taste treats you select for eating afterwards.

  • While coffee brews, fill each thermal container with hot water to preheat.  Drain; fill each with different brewed coffee.

Tasting Notes

Compare coffees based on these five characteristics:

  • Aroma: First impression of the smell before tasting.

  • Acidity:  The “brightness” of the coffee on your tongue. A positive characteristic referring to the sparkling, cleansing quality of coffee.

  • Body:  The weight of the coffee on your tongue.

  • Flavor:  The total impression of aroma, acidity and body.  Identify specific taste attributes: herbal, fruity, citrusy, nutty, chocolaty, caramel-like, flowery, earthy, grassy, winy, woody, syrupy, smoky.

  • Finish:  The flavors that remain after tasting.  The big question:  Do you like it?

Two Favorite Coffee Tasting Parties

Coffee Days

One or more of these:
Chocolate Chip Biscotti
Mocha Muffins
Mocha Streusel Coffee Cake
Cappuccino-Chocolate Coffee Cake

Coffee Nights

One or more of these:
Coffee-Toffee Cake with Caramel Frosting
Orange Cappuccino Cake
Mocha Brownies
Ultimate Chocolate-Cappuccino Cookie Cups
Hazelnut Cappuccino Crinkles

Make It Special!

  • Rich espresso browns and icy blues are your color cues.  Use them for paper cups (multiply number of guests times number of coffees tasted), napkins, note cards or note pads for opinions and notes, pencils.

  • Give this idea a ‘go’ the next time you get together for breakfast or mid-morning.

  • Turn a no-theme bridal shower or housewarming into something special.  It’s a novel way to avoid those party games!


  • Don’s reheat coffee—it becomes bitter.

  • Stir coffee into Betty CrockerÒ brownie mix for the water.

  • Bake Mocha Mousse Cake.  It uses brewed coffee.

Try it Out in a Recipe

Iced Hazelnut Coffee Coolers
Iced Hazelnut Coffee Coolers
Serving coffee shop coffee coolers at home is easy. Here's the secret....
Choco-Hazelnut Latte Cookies
Choco-Hazelnut Latte Cookies
Prize-Winning Recipe 2009! Love hazelnut coffee? Create the same latte flavor in a deliciously easy,...
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