From African coffee ceremonies, Middle Eastern coffeehouses, and European cafés to good ol' American java joints, sipping coffee and socializing is a centuries-old tradition around the globe. So why not tap into that tradition—and take it to the next level—by hosting a coffee tasting at home? Choose a few brews, then serve a selection of easy, elegant sweets from the following pages, and you've got everything you need for a celebration that's guaranteed to get guests talking.
Cocoa-dusted Glazed Almonds (pictured)
Flight of Fancy
When selecting coffees for a tasting, "Start with medium-roasts from particular regions," advises Lindsey Bolger, director of Coffee Sourcing and Relationships at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in Waterbury, Vt. "Coffees reflect the soil and climate where the beans are grown," she explains. Bolger's recommendations, below, also work as a cheat sheet for buying coffee yourself!
ColombianClassic balance with just the right level of acidity; a good coffee to taste first.
French roastThis dark-roast coffee lets tasters savor how roasting influences the flavor of coffee.
EthiopianClear, pure flavor with floral and berry notes from the botanical birthplace of coffee. Bolger says tasting African coffee is "almost a tea-like experience."
Guatemalan or Costa RicanBrighter, more vibrant flavor with a little more acidity. "Think in terms of musical harmonies—Central American coffee is like a tenor and a soprano singing together," says Bolger.
SumatranHeavy-bodied, rustic-flavored coffee with pleasing, earthy notes produced by the parts of the fruit that remain on the coffee seed during processing.