Coffee Tasting Terminology
Basic coffee tasting terminology is:
- Fragrance – intense or mild? This is the scent of the beans or ground coffee. Nutty, fruity, floral?
- Aroma – intense or mild? This is the brewed smell. Types would be nuts, chocolate, fruit, earth, spice, flowers, herbs? Each coffee has its own distinct aroma.
- Body - The overall mouth feel. This is the sense of heaviness, richness, and thickness at the back of the tongue when you swish the coffee around your mouth. Is it thick or thin? Think of skim milk or cream. Is the texture creamy, oily, buttery, slippery, silty or watery?
- Acidity - This is a pleasant tartness that is you can taste on the back of your palate. It should be distinguished from sour, or an unpleasant sharpness. An acidy coffee is almost like a dry wine. Bright, tangy quality is often experienced when tasting high quality coffee. It is similar to the tangy sensation when biting into an apple. High acidity is considered bright. Is it citrusy or berry-like? The fun is trying to compare it to foods you have had before.
- Flavor - Acidity has something to do with flavor, and so do aroma and body. Some coffees just have a richer, fuller flavor than others, whereas other coffees have an acidy tang that tends to dominate everything else. Is the flavor nutty, chocolate, herby, caramel, fruity, earthy, spicy or flowery? Flavor can be very subjective. Not everyone s going to taste the same thing all the time on the same coffee. Different flavors can be stone fruit (fruit with a single pit), citrus, berry, melon.
- Aftertaste - The sensation that is experienced after the coffee is swallowed. It is also known as the finish. It lingers after the coffee has been swallowed. A quick disappearing flavor is called a ‘short’ and lingering flavor is called a ‘long’. The finish can reveal flavors not apparent earlier as well.
- Balance - It means that no one quality overwhelms all others, but there is enough complexity in the coffee to arouse interest.
It is also good to note that coffee’s flavors will change as the coffee cools. It’s best to start when it’s hot and keep on sipping until its room temperature.