Acidity is a desirable characteristic in coffee. It
is the sensation of dryness that the coffee produces under the edges
of your tongue and on the back of your palate. The role acidity plays
in coffee is not unlike its role as related to the flavor of wine.
It provides a sharp, bright, vibrant quality. Without sufficient
acidity, the coffee will tend to taste flat. Acidity should not be
confused with sour, which is an unpleasant, negative flavor
smell of freshly roasted and ground coffee. The acidity will help
you sense this aroma. Aroma is a sensation which is difficult to
separate from flavor. Without our sense of smell, our only taste
sensations would be: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. The aroma
contributes to the flavors we discern on our palates, such as
vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon. Subtle nuances, such as
“floral” or “winey” characteristics, are
derived from the aroma of the brewed coffee.
Bitterness is a harsh unpleasant taste detected towards the back of the tongue. Most of the time this would mean a bad coffee unless it was a very
dark roast where the bitterness is intentional. It can be caused by
a number of factors including burnt coffee or milk, incorrect grind,
defective beans or over-roasted beans.
pale flavor perceived on the upper sides of the tongue, caused by
sugars reacting with the salts to reduce saltiness. Commonly found
in low grown robusta beans and coffee that has been under extracted.
is the feeling that the coffee has in your mouth. It is the
viscosity, heaviness, thickness or richness that is perceived on the
tongue. A good example of body would be that of the feeling of
whole milk in your mouth, as compared to water. Your perception of
the body of a coffee is related to the oils and solids extracted
during brewing. Typically, Indonesian coffees will possess greater
body than South and Central American coffees. If you are unsure of
the level of body when comparing several coffees, try adding an equal
amount of milk to each. Coffees with a heavier body will maintain
more of their flavor when diluted.
used to describe the good pleasant acidity of the coffee, the bright
taste left in your mouth.
A salty sensation associated with coffee that has
been over roasted or brewed too hot.
A full flavor and oily “mouthfeel.”
An aromatic created by a volatile of sugar compounds that produces a
sensation reminiscent of syrup or caramelized sugar.
coffee that has burnt, charcoal tasting overtones.
A tasting term describing sensation shifts; resonance, depth.
caramel colored, creamy layer on top of a shot of espresso. A good
espresso should produce at least 1/5th inch (5mm) layer of
crema on top. The crema “caps” the espresso retaining
its flavor and aroma.
A tasting term describing coffee which tastes a
little off and a bit like dirt. It has an earthy or musty flavor.
The after taste or the lingering taste of the coffee.
Flavor is the overall perception of the coffee in your mouth. Acidity,
aroma and body are all components of flavor. It is the balance and
homogenization of these senses that create your overall perception of
A taste sensation created as the salts in the coffee combine with the
sugars to increase the overall sweetness. A smooth, well balanced
coffee with low to medium acidity.
primarily on the trip of the tongue, used to describe coffee that is
free from harsh flavors or defects.
smooth, full-bodied flavor with a hint of acidity and dryness
associated with fine red wines. Often found in coffees that are
grown above 4,000 ft.