Coffee Tasting Terms
Pretentious and not so pretentious coffee cuppers have their own terminology to describe coffee and its acidity, aroma, body, flavor, fragrance and aftertaste.
Acidity is described as the bite of the coffee or the dryness in the back of your mouth. It does not have any relation to the pH level. Coffee acidity can be described as winey, clear, bright, snappy, dry and clean. No acidity would make the coffee taste flat, dull, soft, mellow, dead, delicate, bland or rough. Varietal coffees (blended coffee varieties), like varietal wines, have many different nuances. Acidity should not be confused with bitterness. However, to be a “politically correct cupper” you would describe acidity as: Low, Medium or High.
Aftertaste, sometimes called finish, is described as the taste left in your mouth after the coffee has been swallowed. You would describe it as: Quick, Lingering or clean.
Aroma is described as the fragrance or odor of coffee. It is described as subtle differences such as faint, delicate, strong or fragrant.
Coffee Aromas can be:
Body is described as the weight and texture by using the oils and intensity of the coffee.
It can be: • Light bodied •• Medium bodied ••• Heavy bodied.
Fragrance is described as the distinct smell of fresh coffee ground nuances before the water is blended. Coffee fragrance can be described using the terms: fruity, floral, earthy etc. Personally, I use the same terminology as the flavors listed below. It is almost poetic.
Flavor is described as the different nuances each coffee tastes. This is not to be confused with flavored coffees made to taste a certain way. It is strictly the taste of the coffee roast and bean. It is the combined sense of acidity, aroma and body basically the overall flavor judged by the 4 tastes on your tongue salt, sweet, bitter or sour.
|Harsh or Pungent|
|Alkaline, Caustic, Phenolic or Creosol|
|Bland or Sharp|
|Soft, Neutral, Rough or Astringen|
|Acidy or Mellow|
|Piquant, Nippy, Mild or Delicate|
|Winey or Soury|
|Acrid, Hard, Tart or Tangy|
There are favorable and unfavorable flavors. Some may be poor, fair, good & fine or:
Generally I find all of these coffee tasting adjectives to be quite poetic. For example, “the coffee is clean, low acidic, full-bodied with aromatic floral tones of jasmine and the taste of sweet caramel.” Oh, where are the poets? No wonder Bach wrote a coffee cantata.