• Coffee Tasting Vocabulary
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Coffee Tasting Vocabulary

Learning to taste and talk about coffee can be intimidating. Generally, when professionals talk about coffee, they say things like, “medium bodied with razor fine acidity, chocolately mouthfeel, and hints of blackberry and sweet cream.” How do you get all that from a single cup of coffee? Learning to articulate what you taste begins with learning some basic coffee vocabulary. Saying, “this coffee tastes like the bottom of my soggy running shoes,” is totally legit! But since not everyone goes around licking soggy running shoes, coffee speak can translate that sentiment into something more objective: “Heavy bodied with an astringent mouthfeel--hints of fresh earth and cut grass, lightly fecal.” Here are some basic coffee terms that not only should help you talk about coffee like a snob, but also find coffees that you will like based on someone else’s description:

Body describes the weight of the coffee in your mouth. Think about drinking a glass of milk. Skim milk is thin and light on the tongue—almost like water. Whole milk, on the other hand, is much thicker and weightier. Body can be thought of in this way. Some coffees have weightier feeling on the palate, while others are crisp and refreshing.

Body and mouthfeel are subtly different. While body refers to the general weight of the coffee, mouthfeel refers to the texture or tactile sensation that drinking the coffee gives you. Sure it’s heavy bodied, but is it syrupy? Oily? Buttery?

Acidity can be kind of a deceptive term because coffee is not an acidic beverage. In fact, the term acidity is kind of falling out of fashion in favor of the word “brightness.” Acidity is a desirable characteristic in coffee that is generally attributed to coffee grown at higher altitudes. Acidity is not the same as sourness, as it is NOT a flavor. It refers to the tactile sensation of biting into a fresh orange or ripe grapefruit.

Exactly what it sounds like. Sweetness can be a fruity like berries, syrupy like caramel, or floral like a gardenia.

This is a pretty straightforward concept. What does the coffee TASTE like? Let your imagination run wild. Any taste you can think of is a valid flavor. Green peas? Ripe cherries? Hazlenut pastry? Marzipan? Horses? Go for it.

Clean is a word that is used to describe a coffee that is free of defects. Defects are many and include things like mold, heavy fermentation, or metallic flavors. To determine whether or not a coffee is clean, it is helpful to think to yourself, "is there a weird flavor that is obscuring the actual taste of the coffee?"

Learning these concepts can help you to become a more confident connoisseur and be more successful in purchasing coffees that you enjoy!

  • Info At Mocha Joe's
  • coffeecuppingtastingvocabulary