Like a fine wine, what's the best way to taste it and introduce the taste to your other friends and colleagues?
Try not to schedule a tasting party for coffee at night. At the very latest, between 2PM and 5pm is the classic tea time, and the same goes for coffee.
If you want to go all out, have pre-printed cards or sheets of paper for guests to judge each brand on the classic attributes of flavor, body, and aroma, with space for people to make notes. Some common additional attributes applied to a coffee refers to the bitterness, nuttiness, and sharpness.
Have plenty of filtered water on hand, because you don't want to ruin high quality grounds with stale or mildewed water. Soft water and distilled water often are too salty and throw off the taste. Fresh and filtered is the way to go!
Have a tray with approximately a dozen small ceramic or glass cups along with measuring spoons and scoops. For Lao coffee the instinct is to prepare it using a French press. Be sure to remember to bring your coffee with you to wherever you're holding the tasting.
Try not to use styrofoam or plastic tasting cups, as the chemicals can throw off the flavor and aroma of the coffees.
Boil the water, then grind the beans using a burr grinder. The fineness of the grind will make a big difference in the final cup of coffee. Be sure to clean the grinder well before placing in a different brand of coffee.
Prepare the different coffees in a coffee maker but remember to allow it to steep for several minutes before tasting. Generally, the proportions are: 2 tablespoons of coffee per 6 fluid ounces of water, but adjust it as you try to find the most flavorful for you. The water is ideally 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
After the coffee has settled for a moment after, you can spoon out a taste and smell it. Take time to enjoy the aroma for a moment, then taste the coffee by letting it run over the tongue. Hold the taste briefly, and then spit the coffee into a nearby container.
Coffee engages smell, touch, taste, and sight. No one likes an anemic looking coffee. It shouldn't be clear as tea.
Pause and consider the experience with the coffee you just tasted. Did it remind you of wood in its taste and smell, or was it peppery or perhaps floral in its flavor? Try different roasts. These range from very dark to light.
You may want to experiment with altering your grinds from very fine to rough. Sometimes the grind can make big difference in the final taste and texture of your coffee.
Cleanse your palate, usually with a bite of something like a scone, a piece of bread, or a plain cracker, then try your next cup.
To fully appreciate the coffees, sip it black first before adding cream, sugar, syrups or condensed milk. But after the formal element of the tasting, have these on hand for people to see if the coffee responds well to their favorite additions.
These are only suggestions, however! You're free to experiment with whatever works best for you as long as you have fun!
If you're doing a tasting with guest, be sure to give them information how to get their own bags of each brand. Even better have a few pounds on hand that they can take home with them, or send them with some in a ziplock bag that will help keep in the freshness.