In 2014, Hidenori Izaki won the World Barista Championship. In 2013, he also competed, but this time with a presentation on umami. Never heard of it? You’re not the only one – Izaki had to define it for the judges.
So what is umami, how do you recognise it, and what impact does it have on coffee? Read on to discover all of this. And don’t worry, we’ll keep it short and… well, not so sweet. Maybe more savoury.
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Umami (うま味), a loanword from Japanese, combines “delicious” (umai) and “taste” (mi). In Japanese, it means a particularly savoury, delicious taste common to foods like broth and meat.
And in English? Well, it’s become known as a fifth taste, after sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. And it refers to the presence of glutamic acid. This 46-second clip covers the basics:
So how does this sense affect your food and drink? One chef discusses his long path to believing in the power of umami.
Of course, umami is savoury – something that we rarely associate with coffee. Yet Hidenori Izaki competed in the 2013 World Barista Championship with a coffee that was both umami and sweet.
While he admits that this is a rare profile, he focused his routine on amplifying the flavour profile. Watch it all below in its full glory:
Now that’s something to think about about next time you’re cupping coffee.
Feature photo credit: World Coffee Events
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