Photo: Courtesy of Counter Culture Chicago

You know it's good, but what makes it great? (Hint: Fruit.)

How do you know when you're drinking a pretty good cup of coffee—versus something truly exceptional?

If you're going to Chicago's CoffeeCON tomorrow, you might want to be able to tell the difference.

According to Rich Futrell, a coffee educator and representative of Counter Culture Coffee’s Chicago training center, the general consensus is that a high quality cup of coffee is one where you can taste some fruitiness.

Contrary to popular belief, coffee beans are berries—not actually legumes at all. They’re the pits of these Coffea berries, and that's why Futrell emphasizes that the essence of the fruit should be represented in the cup. For someone drinking something exceptional, that means you'll detect “lighter, brighter, fruity flavors.”

But he acknowledges that coffee people can be “super esoteric,” so he also offers a simpler way of looking at coffee preferences.

“Quality isn’t a pinpoint but a window,” he says. “Outside of the window is when we can get into the science, but, once you get into that window, there’s a lot of preference and subjectivity involved.”

Find your own preference at CoffeeCON, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, 28600 Bella Vista Parkway. Admission fee: $15 advance and $20 at door