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Brew Diligence Day Five: Citrus Triangulation

By: Jessie Kennedy, Photos By Dylan Gephart

Welcome to Brew Diligence, our at-home coffee education series.

Citrus is a great subject for at-home sensory exercises. All coffee has some level of acidity and tasting different citrus fruits will help you tune your palate to different levels and types of acidity. How is the sourness of an orange different from that of a grapefruit? Which has a more intense acidity, lemon or lime? Mindfully tasting citrus will answer all kinds of questions.

Triangulation is a method of training the palate to identify differences across samples. Practicing finding the odd-one-out teaches coffee professionals such as roasters and buyers how to identify flaws in coffee samples and trains the palate to identify nuanced differences. 

You can practice triangulation at home with any similarly tasting foods. Here we’re using different citrus fruits, but you can increase the difficulty by using only different varieties of the same fruit. 

What You’ll Need

  • Samples of at least 3-5 different citrus fruits, i.e. limes, lemons, oranges, grapefruit, tangerine, etc.
  • 2 small glasses (shot glasses work great) for each fruit
  • Small post-its or painters tape and sharpie, for labeling the bottoms of the glasses

How to Perform a Triangulation:

1. Squeeze the juice of each fruit into small glasses (shot glasses work great) and dilute with an equal amount of water. Dilution makes this a little trickier, so you can always try it out with pure fruit juice first! Make 2 glasses for each fruit and label each glass on the bottom so you can track which fruit is where.

2. Prepare three glasses. Two should contain the same fruit and one should be different. The goal is to blindly taste the samples and identify which one is different.

3. Mix up the samples so that you don’t know which is which. Taste. Think about what you’re tasting, which sample tastes different, and why.

4. When you think you know which sample is different, set it aside and reveal the answers. Then, repeat with other samples!

Think about this exercise next time you sip your coffee. Do you taste a citrus fruit? If so, which one? Click below to try this exercise with coffee. Happy Tasting!

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