Training the palate: Triangulations
Through cupping, tasters determine and evaluate each of the characteristics that define a coffee; tasting is the practice used to know and distinguish its virtues and defects.
Developing the palate and improving tasting skills is something that can be worked on so that cuppers can do their job more effectively. That is why one of the practices most used by tasters is triangulation, a very useful method for improving sensory analysis. Triangulation tests increase cuppers' sensitivity to small differences in coffee characteristics.
To practice triangulation, it is convenient to follow the SCA cupping protocol.
On the tasting table we place several cup triangles (three cups in each) and inside each triangle we place two equal cups and a cup with different coffee.
As a first step, tasters should examine and smell the coffee beans. Then, with a spoon, they take small sips of coffee with a powerful suction, so that the swallowed coffee can be distributed throughout the palate. This suction must be made as strong as possible, the reason is none other than to aerate the coffee and thus allow it to spread better so that all the receptors of the tongue can capture the full flavor.
Tasters must be able to find a different cup and set it apart from the rest. To do this, both the aroma and the taste of each cup must be taken into account.
The ideal way to carry out this test is to adapt the conditions of the room environment so that it is carried out in the most balanced way possible. The ideal is to do it in a dark room under red lights. The lack of light eliminates any visual difference between the different coffee samples, making it even more difficult to recognize the discordant cup.
The degree of difficulty will also depend on the coffee samples used; multiple from a different origin or batches. During the exercise, there will be signs that indicate which is the different cup: aroma, flavor, acidity, body or cup tasting backtaste will help us identify the differences.