Coffee Tasting Terms

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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. With out sufficient acidity, the coffee will tend to taste flat. Acidity should not be confused with sour, which is an unpleasant, negative flavor characteristic.


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. Subtle nuances, such as "floral" or "winy" characteristics, are derived from the aroma of the brewed coffee.


Body 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.


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 flavor. The following are typical flavor characteristics:



Richness—refers to body and fullness

Complexity— the perception of multiple flavors

Balance— the satisfying presence of all the basic taste characteristics where no one over-powers another


specific desirable
flavor characteristics

Bright, Dry, Sharp, or Snappy— (typical of Central American coffees)
Caramelly —candy like or syrupy
Chocolaty— an aftertaste similar to unsweetened chocolate or vanilla
Delicate— a subtle flavor perceived on the tip of the tongue (typical of washed New Guinea arabica)
Earthy— a soily characteristic (typical of Sumatran coffees)
Fragrant— an aromatic characteristic ranging from floral to spicy
Fruity— an aromatic characteristic reminiscent of berries or citrus
Mellow— a round, smooth taste, typically lacking acid
Nutty— an aftertaste similar to roasted nuts
Spicy— a flavor and aroma reminiscent of spices
Sweet— free of harshness
Wildness— a gamey flavor which is not usually considered favorable but is typical of Ethiopian coffees
Winy— an aftertaste reminiscent of well-matured wine (typical of Kenyan and Yemeni coffees)


specific undesirable
flavor characteristics

Bitter— perceived on the back of the tongue, usually a result of over roasting

Bland— neutral in flavor

Carbony— burnt charcoaly overtones

Dead— see "flat"

Dirty— a mustiness reminiscent of eating dirt

Earthy— see "dirty"

Flat— lack of acidity, aroma, and aftertaste

Grassy— an aroma and flavor reminiscent of freshly cut lawn

Harsh— a caustic, clawing, raspy characteristic

Muddy— thick and dull

Musty— a slight stuffy or moldy smell (not always a negative characteristic when in aged coffees)

Rioy— a starchy texture similar to water which pasta has been cooked in.

Rough— a sensation on the tongue reminiscent of eating salt

Rubbery— an aroma and flavor reminiscent of burnt rubber (typically found only in dry-processed robustas)

Soft— see "bland"

Sour— tart flavors reminiscent of unripe fruit

Thin— lacking acidity, typically a result of under brewing

Turpeny— turpentine-like in flavor

Watery— a lack of body or viscosity in the mouth

Wild— gamey characteristics

Nancy Astor (to Winston Churchill):
"Sir, if I were your wife, I would put poison in your coffee."
Winston Churchill (in reply):
"Madam, if I were your husband, I would drink it."

Coffee Fun Facts
The word "coffee" was at one time a term for wine, but was later used to describe a black drink made from berries of the coffee tree. This black drink replaced wine in many religious ceremonies because it kept the Mohammedans awake and alert during their nightly prayers, so they honored it with the name they had originally given to wine.
You're drinking to  much coffee When:
when someone says how are you? you say "good to the last drop."
Coffee Joke
Did you know it's a sin for a woman to make coffee?

Yup, it's in the Bible!

It says.............