Tasting Qualities Every Coffee Snob Needs To Know

Here are the major characteristics you should be paying attention to, while you are tasting your coffee:

Acidity – The sensation of dryness in the back and under the edges of your mouth. This is a desirable quality and not to be confused with sour (which is considered a bad quality of coffee). Acidity creates a lively, bright taste which, without it, the coffee would taste flat.

Aroma – Without aroma, we could only taste sweet, sour, bitter and salty. This is where we get the subtle differences such as floral, nutty or fruity.

Body – The way the coffee feels in your mouth, such as thin or heavy. The best way to describe it is the comparison to how whole milk feels in your mouth compared to water. If you are unsure as to the level of body in the different coffees, add an equal amount of milk to each one and the one with the heavier body will retain more of its flavour when diluted.

Flavour – This is the overall perception of the three characteristics above. Flavour can be rich (full bodied), complex (multi-flavored), or balanced (no one characteristic over powers the other.


Desirable Taste Qualities

Bright or Dry – highly acidic leaving a dry aftertaste

Caramelly – caramel like or syrupy

Chocolaty – aftertaste similar to unsweetened chocolate

Earthy – an earth like quality (sometimes unfavourable)

Fragrant – an aroma ranging from floral to nutty to spicy, etc.

Fruity – having a citrus or berry scent

Mellow – a smooth taste lacking acidity but not flat

Nutty – similar to roasted nuts

Spicy – an exotic aroma of various spices

Sweet – a lack of harshness

Winey – aftertaste resembling a mature wine

Undesirable Flavour Qualities

Bitter – aftertaste perceived on the back of the tongue

Bland – neutral in flavour

Carbony – burnt charcoal flavours

Earthy – a musty, soil-like quality

Flat – lacking aroma, acidity, and aftertaste

Grassy – aroma and taste of grass

Harsh – a caustic, raspy quality

Muddy – thick and flat

Musty – slightly stuffy smell (sometimes desirable in aged coffees)

Rubbery – a smell of burnt rubber

Sour – a tart flavour such as unripe fruit

Turpeny – a flavour resembling turpentine

Watery – a lack of body

Wild – a gamey flavour