What Makes a Great Black Bean?

The texture of high quality black beans should include tender skins and soft bean interiors. There may be some minimal fibrousness of the skins, but the bean interiors should not be mealy. There will be some expected levels of adhesiveness and minimal starchiness. Ideally, there may also be some richness.

Bean notes should be the leading intensity in both aroma and flavor. There may also be notes of onion, garlic and black pepper/seasoning. If earthy and starchy notes are also present, they should remain minimal.

The taste profile should lead with saltiness, followed by sweetness, umami and bitterness.

The beans should appear to be intact and the liquid should look moderately thick.

Tasting terms

  • texture

    A dimension used to organize attributes like mouthfeel, graininess and initial bite, it is one of the five dimensions used by ChefsBest Master Tasters to evaluate food. Example: Glazed popcorn will have a crunch texture. The texture of milk chocolate should be creamy and smooth.

  • adhesiveness

    The degree to which some foods stick to the tongue, teeth or upper palate; not to be confused with "cohesiveness," which is the degree to which food sticks together. Example: Peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth; white bread sticking to the teeth.

  • richness

    Associated with creamy and dense mouthfeel; often evident in products containing significant amounts of butter or cream. Example: Alfredo sauce, coffee and super premium ice cream can be described as rich.

  • aroma

    The smell that emanates from food. Along with appearance, texture, flavor and taste, aroma is one of the five dimensions used to evaluate a product. Example: Brownies should have an aroma that includes chocolate as well as egg, toasty and sweet notes.

  • flavor

    A combination of a food's basic taste and its accompanying aroma, flavor is the distinctive taste of a food or ingredient while it is in the mouth. Along with aroma, appearance, texture and taste, flavor is one of the five dimensions considered by ChefsBest Master Tasters. Example: Chocolate chip cookies should have a moderate chocolate flavor accompanied by a slightly lower level of complex dough flavor that includes egg, flour, vanilla and brown sugar notes.

  • salt

    One of the basic tastes; tasting of or containing salt. Example: Potato chips, sea water and cured meats all have a strong salt component.

  • sweet

    One of the basic tastes; often considered pleasing while exhibiting characteristics of sugar. Example: Honey, ripe fruits and syrup all have a pronounced sweet component.

  • bitter

    One of the basic tastes; often considered harsh and unpleasant in abundance, but a key basic taste for foods like coffee and dark chocolate. Example: Unripened fruit, aspirin and coffee all have bitter components.