A journey through the senses

No other beverage has the beneficial effects of espresso on the mind and body. It enhances lucidity and concentration, stimulates creativity, caresses the senses and evokes myriad sensations and memories.This is partly due to the small amount of caffeine, but primarily due to its aroma and body. Aroma is the set of fragrances released from the cup and body is the tactile perception of velvet between the tongue and palate.Each aroma acts on the personal memory, bringing on recollections and associations. Tasting, that is, learning to drink a good espresso consciously, also means rediscovering the flavor of the past and more about yourself and your experience in the world.Tasting an espresso is, above all, a journey through the senses. And tasting is much more than merely trying, it is recognizing the components and understanding the reasons for the taste. Therefore you enjoy it twice over, broadening the pleasure of this most rich of experiences.

Taste- A harmonius blend of sweet and bitter

It is time to drink the coffee. The temperature has dropped to about 150°F, which is ideal for tasting espresso. And its taste is better unaltered by sugar: the best espresso already has the right balance of bitter and sweet. Take a first sip and let the coffee flow all through your mouth. There is a pleasant mix of both full, sweet fragrant flavors and bitter ones that coexist in perfect harmony. The bitter flavors fade almost immediately while the sweetness remains in a pleasing sensation that lingers for a long time.

Touch- A velvety body

Pick the cup up, stir the espresso and notice its consistency. Take your first sip and notice the espresso's body, that sensation of agreeable roundness and creaminess that the oils and sugars create in the mouth. The body and aroma together distinguish espresso from all the other preparations. The body must have the right smoothness: when espresso is made properly, the coffee flows into your mouth and caresses it like velvet.

Aroma- A signature aroma

As with the world's best wines, you can explore the unique characteristics of illy through the sense of smell. The aroma of coffee comes from the volatile substances that are released during the roasting process as a result of a series of chemical reactions that take place within the bean. Aroma is sensed by smelling the coffee and also retro-nasally when volatile compounds waft into the nasal passages while coffee is in the mouth or has been swallowed. A mixture of approximately 25 highly potent volatile compounds of the over 850 identified so far are responsible for most of the experience we know as coffee taste. Inhale deeply for a few seconds, letting the steam lift the aromatic notes. Try to recognize the fresh, light fragrances of flowers, fruits and nuts. The following is a list of some of the most easily identifiable and desirable aromas found in coffee:

Roasted: Characteristic aroma resulting from the transformation of sugars that takes place within the bean during roasting.

Chocolatey: An aroma that is reminiscent of cocoa with a trace of vanilla.

Floral: An aroma that resembles the smell of fresh flowers in general, without recognizable single notes.

Fruity: Refers to the scent of fresh fruit, especially that of citrus fruit.

Grassy, toasted bread: Aromas that are pleasant within certain limits.

Sight- The perfect espresso can be recognized at first sight

The first thing you do with an espresso is look at it, and there are many things a trained eye can recognize at first sight. The white china frame allows you to observe the surface of the crema more clearly. The surface of a perfect espresso crema has a subtle texture lined with light tiger stripes, is between 3 to 4 millimeters thick, and its color ranges from hazelnut to darker shades. This color is a real litmus test for quality. A darker shade of brown, with a white button or a dark hole in the middle indicates that the extraction time was too long, the grind was too fine or the temperature or water pressure were too high. Espresso with a sparse, light-colored crema indicates it was extracted for too short a time, that the water temperature or pressure were too low or the grind was too coarse.

Sound- The secret sound of espresso

Can you listen to coffee, can you appraise its sound as you can its aromas or its smooth mouthfeel? Logic would say no, you can't, and it is hard to imagine an assessment grid for the sound of coffee. But if tasting is an art, and intuition, subjectivity and personal memory all play a part, then the four senses involved bring in the fifth one too. Your sensorial experience is enriched by the bar noises, by the tinkling of the china cups and saucers, by the soft breath which accompanies the inhaling of aromas and the retronasal test, and finally by the tasters' comments. These sounds are imprinted on your memory, to recall a moment and special sensations.