Know the Terminology:

Acidity:

    ACIDITY is the pleasant tartness with underlying sweetness that you taste in coffee. It's what gives the coffee flavor and is not to be confused with the sharp, unpleasant sourness you may get from some over-fermented beans. Acidity to coffee is what dryness is to wine. For a lot of acidity, aim for beans that are grown in high altitudes and lightly roasted.

Aftertaste:

    AFTERTASTE is the lingering sensation or flavor of the coffee.

Aroma:

    AROMA is the fragrance produced by freshly brewed coffee.

Balance:

    BALANCE is the tasting term applied to complex brews for which no single characteristic overwhelms the others.

Bitterness:

    BITTERNESS is the taste perceived at the back of the tongue and is not necessarily bad. Dark roasts, for example, are intentionally more bitter than light roasts. Over-extraction or grinding a coffee too fine can lead to a bad bitter taste.

Blend:

    A BLEND is the mixture of two or more individual types of coffee, usually from a variety of origins.

Body:

    BODY is the sensation of heaviness, richness, or thickness and is associated with the texture when one tastes coffee.

Complexity:

    COMPLEXITY is a tasting term used to describe sensation shifts, resonance, and the depth of flavor.

Crema:

    CREMA is the foamy, creamy brown layer that appears on the surface of espresso shots and is a vital component of well made espresso. It is essentially a combination of emulsified coffee oils and tiny trapped bubbles of carbon dioxide.

Fair Trade:

    FAIR TRADE coffee is coffee that has been purchased from farmers at a "fair" price, as defined by international agencies.

Finish:

    The FINISH is the sensory of coffee just as it is swallowed.

Flavor:

     FLAVOR in coffee is the combined sensory impression of both aroma and taste.

Fragrance:

    FRAGRANCE describes the scent of dry coffee immediately after it has been ground, but before it has been brewed.

Organic:

    ORGANIC coffee has been certified by a third-party agency as having been grown and processed without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or similar chemicals.

Rich:

    RICH is a term for coffee that has depth, flavor, and body.

Smooth:

    SMOOTH is a term for palatable coffee that is free from defects or harsh flavors.

Viscosity:

    VISCOSITY refers to the thickness of the coffee.


Know the Roasts:

Light Roasts:

  • No oil
  • Usually cinnamon or a little darker in color
  • Lighter body
  • More flavor of origin
  • More acidity

Medium Roasts:

  • Very little to no oil present
  • Milk chocolate coloring
  • Added depth of body at the cost of some acidity and some origin characteristics

Dark Roasts:

  • Dark, almost black coloring
  • Ample amounts of oil present on surface
  • Body beginning to decrease
  • Flavor is thin
  • Tastes of the roast
  • Bitter
  • Low acidity

Follow Your Tastebuds: