Coffee Facts

A Virtual Coffee Tasting by Driftaway. Is It Worth Trying?

If you’d like to learn more about the coffee craft, you may be unsure where to start. Why not try out a virtual tasting seminar? Our team at Roasty Coffee had the chance to test Driftaway Coffee’s virtual tasting experience, so keep reading this article to learn how we liked it and whether it’s worth trying out!

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Like most of us here at Roasty, I consider myself a coffee connoisseur.

Well, okay. Connoisseur might be a strong word. But, I love coffee and am always eager to learn about all things coffee-related.

So, when the opportunity to participate in a virtual tasting with Driftaway Coffee presented itself, I jumped at the chance to try it out!

Virtual Coffee Tasting

Driftaway Coffee is a subscription service that ships fresh beans to your doorstep on a regular basis! The company began in 2012 and has been the go-to choice for many serious coffee drinkers ever since.

This brand isn’t the only coffee subscription out there (Atlas Coffee Club is another one that we love), nor is it the only company to offer virtual coffee-tasting services.

However, Driftaway did host the virtual event I attended, so I thought it would be a good idea to introduce you, dear Roasty reader, to their excellent brand (to learn more about the Driftaway Coffee experience, check out our full review here).

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So, now that we know which coffee brand we’re testing today, let’s find out how a virtual coffee-tasting session works!

How Virtual Coffee Tasting Sessions Work: Step-By-Step

Step One: Grind and Sort the Bean Samples

Driftaway’s virtual tasting kit arrived at my doorstep with five different coffee samples. The bags didn’t have any identifying information on them — no origin, no tasting notes, no farm names — so it was all a mystery.

If you ordered whole bean coffee as I did, the first step is to grind it (using a burr grinder is more precise.)

Once the grounds were ready, I put 12 grams into five different cups. I also color-coded the cups so I could tell the grinds apart easily.

Next, I pulled out the virtual tasting forms and flavor wheel from Driftaway’s website.

Driftaway virtual coffee tasting

Step Two: The Sniff Test

This step was quite interesting, as I learned there is both a right and wrong way to smell coffee – big inhales are bad, while little sniffs are good.

Also, fragrance and aroma aren’t interchangeable when it comes to coffee – fragrance refers to how dry grounds smell, while aroma describes wet java.

So, with this new knowledge, after sniffing the unlabeled coffees, I wrote down some of the things I smelled in the joe – I could’ve sworn one of them smelled like blackberries.

Step Three: Brew Each Batch of Coffee

After the sniff test, it was time for the fun part: brewing the coffee and trying to identify all the unique flavors!

I won’t lie to you: I guessed blindly when I tried to pinpoint farm locations – I didn’t get any of the coffee origins right.

However, I was often correct about the coffee’s flavor notes, body, and aftertaste, so I was pretty proud of myself.

Just as I did after smelling the coffee, I filled out the information sheet, writing down the things I noticed in terms of flavor, body, acidity, and aftertaste.

(Fortunately, the flavor wheel was there to help me come up with accurate ways to describe what I was tasting.)

Step Four: Time for a Coffee Lesson!

After tasting the brews, it was time to see the results of my guesswork!

I learned about each of the coffees I tried and where they came from, and I discovered a lot about where I went right (and wrong) regarding the coffee’s aroma and taste profiles.

Not only did my catalog of coffee knowledge grow during this time, but I also learned quite a bit of information about the farmers from which Driftaway sources its beans. It was encouraging to see that Driftaway seems to have genuine relationships with the farmers they source from!

At the end of the tasting, I was left with five sample bags left to brew, plus postcards with pictures of the farmers who grew the beans and detailed origin notes — pretty cool, huh?

All in all, it was a delightful coffee class, and I would happily take it again!

THE VERDICT: Are Virtual Tastings a Worthwhile Experience?

So, are virtual coffee tastings worthwhile for the average java drinker? Absolutely! Anyone with a passion for coffee education, whether you’re a longtime coffee lover or brand-new to the world of joe, will enjoy this experience.

If you’re curious about the contents of your favorite coffee brand and want to learn more about the cultivating and roasting process, I highly recommend getting in on the virtual tasting fun.

Virtual Coffee Tasting FAQS

What Is Included in the Virtual Coffee Tasting Kit?

If you have purchased a coffee-tasting kit, or “Explorer Box,” from Driftaway, you’ll receive the following items:

  • Five Driftaway coffee bags
  • A sealed envelope filled with coffee information (Don’t peek at this until you’ve finished sampling each batch of beans!)
  • A pouch of ground coffee labeled “Sample Grind Size”* for you to calibrate your grinder
  • A link to the Zoom coffee tasting led by 2013 World Brewer’s Champion James McCarthy

Generally, other coffee companies send out similar items: samples of the types of coffee they sell, a flavor wheel and cupping instructions, and access to the online class.

*The grind sample isn’t included if you choose the pre-ground Explorer box.

What Other Companies Offer Virtual Coffee Tastings?

In addition to Driftaway’s virtual coffee-tasting seminars, other brands that offer this service include:

Happy Caffeinating!

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