Coffee Taste Characteristics
As you taste different coffees from around the world, try to compare and contrast the coffees by identifying the four tasting terms for each coffee: aroma, acidity, body and flavour.
The way the coffee smells. Some examples of aroma are earthy, spicy, floral and nutty. These distinctive scents are directly related to the actual flavour of the coffee. Certain aromas can be subtle and challenging to recognise for the new coffee taster. Still, it’s important to begin each of your tastings by smelling the coffee, because much of what we perceive as flavour is directly related to our sense of smell.
When we refer to acidity as a coffee-tasting term, we’re not talking about the actual pH of the coffee, we’re identifying the lively, palate-cleansing characteristics of its flavour profile. You’ll taste and feel the acidity of a coffee in the sides and tip of your tongue, in much the same way that you experience acidity when tasting citrus. Coffees with high acidity are described as bright, tangy and crisp with a clean finish. Coffees with low acidity feel smooth in your mouth and tend to remain longer.
The “weight” of the coffee. Does it feel light or full in your mouth? This sensation is similar to what you experience when you compare the feel of whole milk with nonfat milk. A coffee with light body will feel light on your tongue and its flavour will not linger. In contrast, you’ll feel the weight of a full-bodied coffee on your tongue and its flavour will remain in your mouth for a while.
How the coffee tastes. This characteristic seems to register in different parts of the mouth. Citrus, cocoa and berries are just a few of the flavours you may taste in coffee. Some coffee flavours are bold; others are very subtle.