I've been a barista trainer for a number of years now and over time I have encountered individuals with different learning styles. We have those who learn by sight, those who learn by listening, and those who do better with hands on training but couldn't read and follow a recipe or be "told" to perform. And, of course, we have those who can do all three and MORE. For the past 3 years I've been testing my trainees (different classes and groups) on their ability to taste with their brains before putting drinks together. I began doing this when I wanted to add exclusive beverages to the menu at my previous shop. Example: "I'd like you to make me a an Almond Roca Frappe." - (I had made a batch of English Toffee and Almond Roca the night before) - The typical response to a request such as this has been something like "what the heck is that?" My response: "Imagine that you are drinking an iced cafe-au-lait or iced latte and swallowed most of what was in your mouth. Then you put a chunk of almond roca in your mouth and started chewing it with the left over latte. Does it taste good or bad?" Those who thought it would taste good usually came up with a pretty good tasting Almond Roca Frappe. Those who didn't think the mental visual/taste would be good usually didn't make that great a drink. This is just a fun exercise I give trainees to measure their aptitude for mixology and creativity.
I have a tough time getting my point across if you're not in front of me. If the example didn't make sense I'll try to clarify it better. But the idea of tasting with your brain makes sense to me. Have you ever noticed that when little kids are eating they tend to drink and chew their food at the same time? I first noticed this at a Mcdonalds. There was this little kid sitting a table up from me who was stuffing his face with a cheeseburger and fries. He almost finished swallowing his cud when he decided to take a bite of apple pie. I was dumbfounded how he could handle all those contrasting tastes all at once and not gag. The icing on the cake was when he took a gulp of his fruit punch and still continued to chew. He was a happy looking kid. Disgusting. SSSSOOOOO! Do YOU taste with your brain or do you just go with your steps and add sweeteners accordingly?