Coffee A/B Tasting – Results

This is the final post on this series. I started by covering the method for A/B testing coffee, as well as the motivation and approach. I later wrote about the first test session using Hario V60, comparing those beans by making Espresso and the last post described two preparation methods Aeropress and Cappucino.

I repeated a similar process using various combinations of A, B, C, D and E coffee beans. This post will be more brief, with the “results” based on my personal preferences and how I ended up scoring all 5 types of beans.

Contenders

These are the types of beans in this series of tasting sessions:

  • India Monsooned Malabar AA
  • Guatemala Genuine Antigua shb (strictly hard beans)
  • Ethiopian Sidamo Grade II Organic
  • Ethiopian Yirgacheffe
  • Kenya AA Plus Kianjiru Estate

Scoring method

This is the hardest part of the experiment. Deciding which one feels better. And it can change from one preparation method to another. I decided to give 2 points if I really liked a contender better than the other, 1 to both contenders if they felt on-par, and 0 for the one I didn’t like in any given A/B session. There were several sessions, e.g. A/B, C/D, A/D, B/E and so on. To be honest, I’m pretty sure I didn’t manage to do all possible permutations, and certainly not using all preparation methods. I mostly focused on tests using V60, because it was relatively easy to do so side-by-side with minimal variance.

Results

The actual points are not particularly interesting I suppose, but I ended up with this list of points for each type:

A: 1, B: 7, C: 3, D: 2, E: 7

So B and E were in the lead, followed by C, D, and A in that order of preference.

Predictions

When I started the experiment, I already knew one type of bean pretty well (India Monsooned Malabar) – it was my ‘regular’ for some time. I also tasted the Sidamo, and was vaguely familiar with the Yirgacheffe as well. Throughout the different tasting sessions, I felt I could ‘spot’ at least my ‘regular’ amongst the beans. I also had a gut feeling regarding the rest.

Before revealing which bean was assigned to which letter, I decided to write down my prediction. And only then compare it with the actual results.

My prediction was as follows, and I can explain the thinking behind it as well:

  • D was clearly India Monsooned Malabar. You just can’t miss the type of crema it produces when doing an espresso.
  • C and E felt definitely like Ethiopian coffees. I just wasn’t sure which one was which. I guessed that C is Yirgacheffe, and E is Sidamo.
  • That left B and A which were at opposite sides of the scale in terms of score. I guessed that A was Guatemala and B was Kenya. I believe the Kenyan was slightly more expensive, so perhaps it skewed my decision.

To summarize. My predicition: A: Guatemala, B: Kenya, C: Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, D: India, E: Ethiopia Sidamo.

The actual results were surprisingly similar. The only difference was C and E were the opposite of what I guessed.

Final results

Here’s the full list:

  • A: Guatemala, 1 point
  • B: Kenya, 7 points (winner!)
  • C: Ethiopia Sidamo, 3 points
  • D: India, 2 points
  • E: Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, 7 points (winner!)

Thoughts

I greatly enjoyed running this experiment. It forced me to pay much more attention to the preparation process and the different results you can get from different types of beans. Whilst it’s not the most accurate way to compare beans (there are more ‘official’ techniques called cupping, which I won’t go over, since I know almost nothing about), it was still a valuable method to compare in my opinion. People drink coffee using different methods, and it’s a good idea to try to compare using the same method you use to make your coffee normally. At home. With your own tools.

I hope it inspires some of you to try this yourselves. It’s not that difficult, and can be interesting and fun.

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