blog from the ceo & superbarista of phoenix coffee, home of the best baristas in cleveland, ohio

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


We all need to find a way to work this word into our next conversation about coffee. You can pretty much use it in place of the French "Je ne sais quoi" which means literally "I don't know what" but translates into "that special something".

Umami is commonly called "the fifth taste". It is used to describe the flavor often thought of as pungent, savory or meaty. It is also associated with a feeling of perfect quality of taste and is said to involve all the senses, not just that of taste. The term was invented by a Japanese researcher at the Tokyo Imperial University in the 1980s. Umami story here Umami
seems to indicate when you experience something that has genuine substance (and therefore quality).

Dawn and I were quite suprised to experience this quality last week at the Canton Club (in Canton). We made our Restaurant Blend, which is generally a workhorse coffee, in a French Press and braced ourselves. After the first sip, we exchanged glances and then sighs of relief quickly replaced by exclamations. How could it be that good? We sipped again. I mean, really, how could it be that good? It must have been Umami because I can remember the chewy sensation in my mouth, how the cup felt in my hand, the chair underneath me, my feet on the floor, the look on her face, and of course the flavor. It is not often I rave about Restaurant Blend, but Wow!!!


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