Tuesday, July 6, 2010

tastes like?

When I was an intern at Equal Exchange way back when, I met their quality control person whose only job was to taste coffee. Apparently becoming a real, profession coffee connoisseur involves a lot more than just really liking coffee. At that time, the quality control person had undergone a two or three year apprenticeship with some coffee guru, who taught her to nuances of coffee tones and flavors -- much like becoming a sommelier. Cool job, right? Well, doing this kind of work actually requires something more than just an aesthetic sensibility and experience; it requires a natural aptitude to taste flavors with a greater intensity than most people. They're called supertasters. And it's not all wine and coffee for supertasters. Supertasters tend not to like some very common foods because, well, they don't taste very good if you have an acute palette. Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, grapefruit juice, green tea, spinach, soy, carbonation, chili peppers, tonic water, olives -- all of these things are commonly inedible to supertasters. They just can't help it.

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