Coffee Flavor Terms

Coffee Flavor Terms are sometimes thought to be something only the connoisseur would be concerned with.

However, the following definitions of coffee characteristics will enable you to have a better understanding of what flavors, aromas and colors are beneficial and not so beneficial to your drinking pleasure.

Coffee Flavor Terms A

Acidity: is a pleasant quality that points out a coffees flavor and provides a liveliness, sparkle, or snap to the drink. The acidity may be assessed as lively, moderate, flat, or dull.

Aged: is a bean that's been stored for at least a year or more before roasting. The bean has then lost it's acidic flavor, becoming richly sweet and heavily bodied.

Aftertaste: is the sensation of brewed coffee vapors, ranging from carbon to chocolaty and spicy to turpentine as they are released from the residue remaining in the mouth after swallowing.

Alkaline: is a clawing sensation at the back of the tongue caused by alkaline and phenolic compounds that have bitter but not necessarily displeasing tastes; coffee flavor term for dark roasts and some Indonesian coffees.

Aroma: is an odor or fragrance of brewed coffee.

Astringent: is a puckering, salty sensation felt on the front side of the tongue when a cup of coffee is first sipped.

Coffee Flavor Terms B

Baked: is a taste and odor contaminant that gives coffee a flat distinct and uninteresting taste. The corruption is caused by not enough heat over too long of a period during roasting "specifically, when roasts take longer than approx. 18 min.."

Balance: is the term to describe the flavor when one characteristic doesn't intrude on another. Also when the coffees taste is not plain so that it's flavor is still playful.

Bitter: a flavor of over-extracted brews as well as over-roasted coffees, and those with various taste defects. It's a harsh, unpleasant taste detected towards the back of the tongue and normally found only in Dark Roast's.

Bland: the pale flavor often found in low grown robusta beans. Also caused by under-extracted coffees.

Blend: is a mixture of two or more individual varieties.

Body: is an impression of the weight of the coffee in the mouth. May range from thin to medium to full, buttery, or syrupy.

Bold - Has an intense, full body, rich and robust flavor

Extra Bold - Pertains to the overall flavor of the beverage

Bouquet: is a frequently used term, often used when referring to the smell of grounds. Aroma is often distinctive and complex. Some flavor terms used to describe it include: caramel (candy or syrup-like), carbon (for a dark roast), chocolate, fruity, floral, malty (cereal-like), rich, round, and spicy.

Bright: is a tangy acidity, often described as bright.

Briny: is the salty sensation caused by excessive heat after brewing is complete.

Buttery: Is the rich and oily coffee flavor and texture, qualities of some Indonesian varieties, for example: Sulawesi.

Coffee Flavor Terms C

Caffeine - Lower altitude grown coffee beans have less caffeine than beans grown at high altitudes.

Caramelized: Is a sweet, almost-burnt, syrupy flavor not unlike the taste of caramelized sugar.

Creme: is the tan foam that forms when you brew espresso. The creme makes a "cap" which helps retain the smells and coffee flavor of the espresso within the cup.

Coffee Flavor Terms E

Earthy: Is the positive coffee flavor when applied to dry processing; the herbal, musty, mushroom-like range of flavors, characteristics of Indonesian blends. For washed coffee, tasting "earthy" is a defect.

Exotic: is a flavor pertaining to the coffee from East Africa. Exotic refers to unusual flavor notes, such as floral and berry-like (containing black currant or blueberry notes, for example). Contrary to Latin American coffee, whose bean characteristic is clean, acidic flavors provide the standard, and are generally not exotic.

Coffee Flavor Terms F

Ferment: is a taste fault in the beans that produces a highly objectionable spoiled-fruit taste. Ferment is the result of enzymatic activity that occurs during the frying process, changing sugars to acids in the green bean. Unlike dirtiness and mustiness, which can be disguised by dark roasting, ferment becomes worse the longer it cooks.

Flat: is an odor taint that occurs as a result of aromatic compounds departing from beans during the staling process in both whole-bean and ground, or during the holding process in brewed coffee.

Fruit-Like: is a flavor that refers to the natural aroma of berries and that also correlates with the perception of high acidity. It shouldn't be confused with fruity, which is the first stage of the taste defect ferment.

Coffee Flavor Terms G thru H

Grassy: is a taste and odor defect that gives coffee the characteristic of newly mown alfalfa or green grass.

Green: is a herbal, grassy flavor caused by incomplete development of flavor due to improper roasting. It may also be present in the early pickings of a new bean harvest.

Groundly: is a musty, earthy taste associated with coffees that have been damaged in drying or storage.

Harsh: is an unpleasant taste. Reminiscent of raw weeds, and typical of "robusta coffees and Brazils" that have been allowed to dry on the tree. It should be noted that a few coffee drinkers prefer harshness in the cup (see Rioy).

Hidy: is a coffee that has absorbed the aroma of leather or animal hides as a result of being stored or shipped in close proximity to these such items.

Heavy Roast: is very dark-roasted coffee with a bittersweet tang.

Coffee Flavor Terms M thru R

Mellow: is the middle of the road, a balanced flavor that's not too acidic and not too syrupy.

Musty: is a term usually applied to coffee flavors that result from improper heating or drying during processing. However, there also is a mustiness in vintage coffees that is a preferred quality. Connoisseur's, for example, love the naturally sweet mustiness of vintage Colombian coffees.

Rioy: is a harsh, medicine-like flavor present in some coffees produced in the Rio district of Brazil. The term is sometimes applied to any harsh-flavored coffees. The heavy, somewhat pungent, taste is preferred by a few coffee drinkers in the southern United States and France.

Lighter roasts are sweeter
Medium roasts are more complex
Dark roasts are more earthy and sometimes slightly bitter

Coffee Flavor Terms S

Soft: is a low acidic green coffee that is of good drinking quality, without any unpleasant taste characteristics. Like the flavor aspect of mellow.

Sour: is a particular taste linked to bacterial fermentation of green coffee beans, that produces a lactic acid from the lactose and acetic acid from alcohol.

Spicy: is the aroma of coffee versus it's taste.

Sweet: is the trade term to describe coffees that taste un harsh or undamaged in any way as opposed to harshness of a (Rioy).

Coffee Flavor Terms T thru W

Tangy: is the taste that would indicate a wine taste or acidic fruitiness that is quite pleasantly sharp, most evident in high-grown Costa Rican coffees.

Tannin: is a puckery flavor typically caused by the presence of chemicals that are related to tannic acid. A similar property is found in tea's and certain red wines.

Wild: describes coffees with extreme aroma or flavor that could be called defects or attributes to some.

Winy: are coffees with a fruity acid and smooth body, not unlike a fine red wine. A good example of a winy coffee is the Kenyan AA coffee.

So to finish, you now should be able to determine which coffee you would enjoy more than others, and possibly use this knowledge to entertain your friends at the same time.Enjoy!

Coffee Definitions | Coffee Flavor Terminology

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