We all know it’s advertising psychology when Coca-Cola features cute little penguins and polar bears in ads (I didn’t want to have a Coke, but the penguins look so happy! I want to be happy, too!). And when the latest must-have item of the year is touted by whatever celebrity is popular, you need it, because you need to be just like him/her (read: sarcasm. I don’t follow celebrities and I didn’t care enough about this particular example to look up popular celebrities modeling items).

Anyway, the whole point that gets me towards coffee is that the specialty/artisanal/high-end coffee industry also has their advertising schemes tactics, mainly in the tasting notes that accompany each coffee. This is not to say that tasting notes are dumb and useless. In fact, I applaud the use of them for the common consumer who doesn’t know which coffee to select. However, I do believe that some can get pretty ridiculous. The point of the notes is to help the everyday customer choose, not the fresh-farmer’s market-organic-soy-foodie customer choose. Notes that contain the word “fresh” followed by something like “fig,” “honeysuckle,” “cedar,” and “jasmine,” makes me just shake my head. I, for one, have never had the opportunity to taste or smell any of the above. I would love to, but those scents aren’t just hanging around this region. Sometimes, it feels like the roaster is trying to sell the coffee and prove, with the flowery description, that his taste buds are just so much better than yours. Are we supposed to taste ____ coffee and say, “Oh! So that’s what fresh fig tastes like!”?

My current annoyance is with the descriptor, “apple.” Apparently, apples can “sparkle” in a cup. And there are only two kinds of apples: green apples and… apples. Say what? After spending two of years in Michigan (home to too many apple trees) eating out of a dorm cafeteria, I KNOW that there are more kinds of apples out there. There were even freaking posters in the cafeteria describing the apples and their different tastes. So what stumps me is that of all the descriptors to not have an additional adjective, apples are the ones who get shafted. I’m not saying that the tasting note should say “reminiscent of pink lady apples,” but maybe you can add in granny smith, red delicious, fuji, or something? I know that if a coffee was said to taste more like a fuji apple than a granny smith, I’d jump on it immediately. Sweet over sour, for sure.


Hey, tasting note writers, let’s try and help out the customer (you know, the person who pays your bills) and not disconnect them by writing in things they’ve never and will probably never try.