QUESTION: What is a coffee flight? I saw it mentioned on the sign outside a coffee shop I walked past, but I don’t know what it means. — Eva T.
ANSWER: Flights are a way to try a variety of coffees out so you can find your favorites. A coffee flight consists of miniature servings of at least three different coffee drinks. Some flights have preset options, while others allow you to select your own.
Either way, a flight is a great opportunity for you to allow a barista to walk you through several different flavor options. Flights are also an excellent option for sharing with a friend (or several friends) who can’t decide or who is simply down to experience a variety of flavors with you. The coffee flight may introduce you to different types of drip or espresso coffee, or your flight may consist of the same coffee prepared in a few different ways (French press, Chemex, and drip, for example).
The flight setup is borrowed from the world of wine tasting. Much like how a wine flight lets you get to know several different flavors under the watchful eye of a sommelier, coffee flights give you a sample of several coffees, letting you get to know a variety of flavors or preparation methods. And just like a sommelier will introduce you to the complex, nuanced flavors in each glass of wine, your barista will talk you through the flavors and aromas that unfold as you drink your coffee flight.
And flights aren’t just for beginners. More experienced coffee drinkers will find that they’re better able to experience the individual flavor notes of their beverages when they taste several different ones side by side. You may find that the fruity or nutty flavors you read about on coffee labels are easier to perceive when your coffee is served in a flight.
Next time you’re at the coffee shop, try a flight so you can get to know a wider range of what the coffee shop has to offer. You’ll be amazed at how many new flavors you can perceive when the various coffees are served side by side.