Coffee Tasting Terms
The three fundamental tasting terms are Flavor, Body and Acidity.
Aroma. Is the fragrance of brewed coffee. Aroma is distinctive and complex. Common terms used to describe aroma are: floral, spicy, chocolaty and earthy.
Strong. Actually refers to the presence of coffee character, and to brew strength not roast style. However, customers often perceive it as the assertive flavor of dark roasted beans.
Earthy. Connotes “herbal” or “of the earth”. Nut-like in character, Indonesian coffees are often described as spicy-earthy.
Mellow. Describes a balanced coffee of low to moderate acidity (liveliness). Sumatran coffee could be described as “mellow”.
Mild. Refers to the delicate, harmonious flavor found in certain high grown coffees. Mexican coffee could be described as “mild”.
Sweet. Refers to a coffee that is perceived by the palate to be smooth, free of defects and harsh notes.
Tangy. Best describes the darting citrus-like bite present in some coffees, especially high grown Costa Rican coffee and lighter roasted espressos.
Spicy. Describes an aroma or flavor that evokes a spice such as nutmeg, cardamom or pepper.
Winey (Fruity). Is an attractive flavor often found in East African coffees reminiscent of fine red wine. The marriage of fruit-like acidity and smooth body produces a classic wine-like character.
Wild. Refers to coffees with very strong flavor characteristics competing for attention. A “wild” coffee can be interesting or exciting.
Complex. Means that a coffee has many layers present: earthy, winey, floral (aromatic), spicy, or wild. It is often used to describe Yemen coffees.