Coffee Terms

Note: We fully copied this from Sweet Maria's Coffee Glossary because well, they did a great job.

Acetic Acid

Acetic acid can lead to vinegar-like Flavours in over-mature coffees, or bitterness in high quantities. But in moderate amounts it adds a positive winey note to the cup. Acetic acid classifies as an organic acid, and is one that can be detected by smell.

Related Terms: Citric Acid, Phosphoric Acid, Malic Acid, Vinegar, Winey, Liveliness, Chlorogenic Acid, Brightness, Ferment


Acidity

Acidity in arabica coffees is almost always considered a positive flavour attribute, yet the term can sound unattractive. People may relate acidity to stomach discomfort, or to sour Flavours. This would be incorrect. The acidity in good high-grown arabicas imbues the cup with delicate flavour accents, complexity, and dimension. Good acidity is fleetingly volatile, a momentary sensation, giving effervescence to the cup, and informing the mouthfeel as well. Coffees with no acidity can taste flat. Acidity is not about quantity, it is about quality, and good coffees have a complex balance of many types of acidity: malic, citric, acetic, phosphoric, quinic, to name a few ... and a whole set of chlorogenic acids that are very important to flavour experience as well. Kenyas, which by flavour are some of the higher acid coffees, actually have measurably less than Brazil arabicas (of quinic and citric acids), more of others (malic, phosphoric) and far less than some robusta coffees (chlorgenic acids)! Dark roasts tend to flatten out acidity in flavour. But contrary to the taste, darker roasts have more acidity than lighter roasts. So quantity does not always follow perception. Acidity in coffee might be described by terms like bright, clear, effervescent, snappy, dry, clean, winey, etc. Coffees without acidity tend to taste flat and dull, like flat soda. Acidity is to coffee what dryness is to wine, in a sense. Different coffee origins will possess different kinds of acidity; like the wine-like high notes of some African coffees versus the crisp clear notes of high grown coffees from the Americas. Unpleasant acidy Flavours may register as sourness.

Related Terms: Citric Acid, Phosphoric Acid, Malic Acid, Acetic Acid, Chlorogenic Acid, Liveliness, Brightness


Afternose

Commonly used in reference to wine, afternose compliments aftertaste, but refers to residual olfactory sensations after the coffee has left the palate.

Related Terms: Complex, Fragrance, Cupping, Sensory Analysis, Aftertaste, flavour, Aroma


Aftertaste

Aftertaste refers to lingering residual sensations in the mouth after coffee has swallowed. It might be distinguished from "finish" which is the final sensations of the coffee while it leaves the mouth. Also see Afternose.

Related Terms: Sensory Analysis, flavour, Afternose, Aroma, Fragrance


Alkaloid

A taste sensation characterized by a dryness and related bittering Flavours, sometimes at the posterior of the tongue, usually sensed in the aftertaste. It is not always a wholly a bad thing, in moderate intensities

Related Terms: Aftertaste, Cupping, flavour, Sensory Analysis


Anise

Anise is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to the eastern Mediterranean region and southwest Asia known for its flavour that resembles liquorice, fennel, and tarragon. Anise seed is highly aromatic and has a flavour similar to fennel and licorice, used to flavour various foods and liquors

Related Terms: Licorice


Aroma

The aromatics of a coffee greatly influence its flavour profile and come from the perception of the gases released by brewed coffee. Aroma is greatest in the middle roasts and is quickly overtaken by carbony smells in darker roasts. Aroma is distinct from the dry fragrance of the coffee grounds; in general "fragrance" describes things we do not eat (like perfume) and "aroma" pertains to food and beverage we consume. In cupping, wet aroma refers to the smell of wet coffee grinds, after hot water is added. Aromatics as a term may encompass the entire aroma experience of a coffee. Aromatics are a huge part of flavour perception (remember the "hold your nose and eat an onion" experiment). Aromatics reach the olfactory bulb through the nose and "retro-nasally" through the opening in the back of our palate. While some taste is sapid, perceived through the tongue and palate via papillae, or taste buds, most of flavour quality is perceived through the olfactory bulb.

Related Terms: Dry Fragrance, Cupping, Wet Aroma


Ashy

A quality in aroma or flavour similar to that of an ashtray, the odor of smokers' fingers or the smell one gets when cleaning out a fireplace. In the most moderate amount, it may not ruin a cup, but is never used as a positive quality. Ashy Flavours can hint at roasting defects, anything from smokey unclean air being recycled through a roasting drum (or a roaster that doesn't vent, like a barbeque drum roaster set-up). Softer, lower-grown coffees will show ashy tastes before high-grown, dense coffees, given the same roast treatment

Related Terms: Roast Defect, Tipping, Scorching, Smokey, Burnt


Astringent

Astringency is a harsh flavour sensation, acrid flavour, that provokes a strong reaction. It can have dryness, saltiness, sourness and bitterness as components. It is certainly the opposite of sweetness and cleanness in coffee, always a defect flavour.

Related Terms: Sensory Analysis, Cupping, Defect, Acrid


Baggy

Coffees that are held for too long run the risk of this taint. Essentially the coffee comes to absorb the Flavours of whatever it is stored in - usually the burlap or jute bag. Many times a darker roast on these coffees will conceal this taint. Baggy Flavours are the result of several factors: the fats in the coffee absorbing the smell of burlap, the loss in moisture content as the coffee ages, and other chemical changes. For some origins theses changes in flavour can emerge in 1 year, 9 months, even 6 months for some decafs

Related Terms: Storage, Defect, Skunky, Past Crop


Baked

Baked flavour happens in under-roasted coffees haven't developed their character, or coffees that simply sat in the roaster too long without enough heat. It can also happen to scorched coffees where the outside of the bean is browned and the inside is under-roasted. Flavours are typically astringent, grain-like, sour, and body is thin and possibly gritty.

Related Terms: Under-developed, Grainy


Balance

Balance is both an obvious and slippery taste term. It implies a harmony and proportion of qualities, and perhaps a mild character since no one quality dominates. Balance can exist between aromatics, Flavours, textural sensations, and aftertaste, or between competing Flavours. Bittersweet is a term that implies a balance of 2 basic sapid Flavours.

Related Terms: Cultivar flavour, Origin flavour, Cupping, Sensory Analysis, Mouthfeel, flavour, Aroma, Round


Basic Flavours

"In the mouth" sensations derived from the basic Flavours: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, savory (umami). These are the core sensations that can be experienced without the input of the olfactory, through the papilla located in taste buds on the tongue.

Related Terms: Aroma, Aftertaste, Cupping, flavour, Sensory Analysis


Bergamot

Bergamot orange is used to scent Earl Grey tea, in perfumery and confection baking. It is the size of an orange, with a yellow color similar to a lemon, and has a pleasant fragrance. The juice tastes less sour than lemon, but more bitter than grapefruit. It is only grown commercially in Calabria Italy

Related Terms: Citrusy, Bright, Acidity


Bitter

Sweetness is one of four basic sapid (in the mouth) tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter and Umami (savory Flavours). While most would say bitterness is undesirable, coffee has essential bitterness to it. Most undesirable bitterness is formed by roasting defects (flash roasting, or slow baking of the coffee), too-light roast (astringent, trigonelline bitterness) or dark roasting (burned roast taste, no remaining sucrose). Another bitterness is experienced from the rancid oils and residues of dirty brewing equipment. There are many types of bitterness, hence not one avenue to tracking down its source. Bitterness as a positive quality is balanced with residual sweetness, and we use the term bittersweet or bittersweetness to describe this, as in darker chocolate Flavours.

Related Terms: Bittersweet, Umami, Bitter, Salty, Sweet, Sour


Bittersweet

Bittersweet is from the language of chocolate, and describes the co-presence of positive bittering compounds balanced by sweetness. It is directly related to caramelization, but has inputs from other roast reactions, as well as bittering Flavours such as trigonelline. Bittersweet is usually a roast flavour term, but is always specific to the green coffee too (good bittersweetness would not develop at any roast level in a coffee without the native compounds to engender it). Usually, bittersweetness of a coffee develops as the roast gets darker and eventually overpowers other Flavours. It dark roasts, acidity is reduced, while the caramely taste of sugars form the stimulating bittersweetness.

Related Terms: Roasting, Caramelization, Pyrolysis


Blackberry

Blackberry is found as a fragrance, aroma or flavour in some coffees. I find that it is less obvious at very light roast levels, such as City roast, and is more pronounced at City+ to Full City. It might be found in a wide range of origins, from Rwanda and Kenya, to Guatemala and Colombia. Mora is the blackberry found in Latin America, and is a slightly different plant than what we call blackberry in North America.

Related Terms: Black Currant, Fruity, Aroma, Fragrance


Blended Coffee

A blend is a mixture of coffees from multiple origins. Coffees are typically blended to produce a more balanced cup. Almost all of the blends you'll see are made with espresso in mind.

Related Terms: Single Origin, Espresso


Body

Associated with and sensed by mouthfeel, body is sense of weight and thickness of the brew, caused by the percentage of soluble solids in the cup, including all organic compounds that are extracted from brewing and end up in the cup. Body refers usually to thick or thin, heavy or light, full-bodied or watery. Mouthfeel is used to describe a much broader range of characteristics and textures.

Related Terms: Cupping, Mouthfeel, Aroma


Bold

Historically, Bold is a vague marketing term sometimes used to describe a darker roast. In our coffee reviews, use Bold as the highest level of intensity in our simple scale, and aggressive flavour profile. It does not mean a better cup than mild, delicate coffees.

Related Terms: Intensity, Strong


Break

In coffee cupping, the "breaking of the crust" of floating grounds, part of aromatic evaluation. You add water to the coffee grounds, filling the cup, and wait 4 minutes. At this point there is still a crust of floating coffee grinds. You put your nose right above the cup and "break" this crust by stirring it with the spoon. The grinds sink, and the coffee can be tasted anywhere from 5-15 minutes after the break.

Related Terms: Crust, Cupping, Body, Aroma, flavour


Brightness

A euphemistic term to describe acidity in coffee. A bright coffee has more high, acidic notes. Not to be confused with the brighter roast Flavours of light roast levels, such as City to City+ roasts. Read more about acidity to understand its use as a flavour term, not in reference to the quantity of acidity in coffee.

Related Terms: Liveliness, Acidity


Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is a type of sweetness found in coffee ...a sweetness characterized by a hint of molasses, yet quite refined as well. Since Brown sugar of the common type is highly refined (made by recombining molasses with refined white sugar) it makes sense that it's qualities are only mildly rustic. One might distinguish between mild light brown sugar and dark brown types.

Related Terms: Refined Sugar, Turbinado, Sweet, Honey, Muscovado


Burnt

Burnt Flavours in coffee are the result of over-roasting, fast roasting, or roasting in a high-heat environment. This often occurs when the initial roaster temperature when the green coffee is introduced is too high. Usually, scorching and tipping result in burnt Flavours. Sometimes, smokey notes in a cup can be a result of native qualities to the coffee, and not necessarily a defect, or the result of an exotic process such as a Monsooned or Aged coffee.

Related Terms: Scorching, Tipping, Smokey


Buttery

Buttery is primarily a mouthfeel description indicating thickness and creamyness. It indicates a high level of lipids (fats) in the coffee, often. Buttery can also be a flavour description, or a combination of both mouthfeel and flavour

Related Terms: Creamy, Cupping, Sensory Analysis, Aftertaste, Mouthfeel, Body


Cane Sugar

A lightly refined sugar, that has a slight rustic sweetness, but without molasses-like Flavours of brown sugar or raw sugar. It refers to a sugar that has not fully refined, yet is bleached white. This is commonly found in sugar-producing countries. Sugar bleached white by this sulfitation process is called "mill white", "plantation white", and "crystal sugar".

Related Terms: Turbinado, Sweet, Brown Sugar, Muscovado, Refined Sugar


Cappy

A defect term referring to oxidized, unpleasantly sharp cheese flavour, found in coffee that has not been stored correctly, or shipped with cheese.

Related Terms: Cheesy, Yeasty, Mildewy, Baggy


Caramel

Caramel is a desirable form of sweetness found in the flavour and aroma of coffee, and is an extension of roast taste. Extremely light or dark coffees will lose potential caramel sweetness. This is a broad term, and can find many forms since it relates to the degree of caramelization of sugars; light or dark caramel, butterscotch, cookie caramel, syrupy forms, caramel popcorn, various types of candy, caramel malt (beer brewing, many types).

Related Terms: Roasting, Caramelization, Sweet


Carbony

A roast-related flavour term, referring to burnt Flavours from dark roast levels. For some this is a pleasant flavour if residual sweetness is present, but plain carbon flavour is usually not pleasant.

Related Terms: Roasting, First Crack, Second Crack, Degree Of Roast, flavour, Aroma, Creasol, Tarry


Cheesy

A coffee that has a kitchy quality, or literally cheese-like Flavours in the cup. The second is actually a trade term, when their is a dairy-like sourness in the cup. We had this once in a Jamaica coffee. Also see Cappy

Related Terms: flavour, Cappy, Defect


Cherimoya

The fruit is fleshy and soft, sweet, white in color, with a sherbet-like texture, which gives it its secondary name, custard apple. Some characterize the flavour as a blend of banana, pineapple, and strawberry. Others describe it as tasting like commercial bubblegum. It is native to the Andes

Related Terms: flavour, Cupping, Sensory Analysis, Aftertaste, Aroma, Fruited, Guayaba, Guanabana


Cherry

Either a flavour in the coffee, or referring to the fruit of the coffee tree, which somewhat resembles a red cherry. Coffee cherry is also called "coffee berry" especially in older English literature.

Related Terms: Dry Process, Wet Process, Beneficio, Dry-Milling, Preparation, Coffee Cherry


Chirimoya

In coffee, a specific multi-faceted tropical fruit flavour found in Chirimoya (Cherimoya). Wikipedia: Some characterize the flavour as a blend of banana, pineapple, papaya, peach, and strawberry. Others describe it as tasting like commercial bubblegum. Similar in size to a grapefruit, it has large, glossy, dark seeds that are easily removed. When ripe, the skin is green and gives slightly to pressure, similar to the avocado.

Related Terms: Guava, Fruited, flavour, Acidity


Chlorogenic Acid

Chlorogenic acids (CGAs) are important to coffee flavour, contributing to flavour when in the proper balance and level. They are a group of phenolic acids esterified to quinic acid, and account for up to 10% of the weight of green coffee. They are known to have antioxidant properties. Like all acids, its levels are reduced in roasting; darker roasts result in less acidity in the cup. Since it reduces to quinic acid in roasting, and quinic acid in high levels results in perceived bitterness and sourness, too much CGA is not desireable. Robusta coffees have roughly 25% more CGA than arabica!

Related Terms: Acidity, Brightness, Liveliness, Acetic Acid, Malic Acid, Phosphoric Acid, Citric Acid


Chocolate

Chocolate is a broad, general flavour or aroma term reminiscent of chocolate. But what type? There are so many forms of chocolate, either in its pure state, or as part of another confection. Chocolate Flavours are often a "roast taste", and are dependent on the degree of roast. Look for more specifics; bittersweet chocolate, bakers chocolate, toffee and chocolate, rustic chocolate, cocoa powder, Dutch cocoa, cocoa nibs, Pralines and chocolate, milk chocolate, Mexican hot chocolate, etc. etc.

Related Terms: Roasting, First Crack, Second Crack, Degree Of Roast, flavour, Aroma


Citric Acid

Citric acid is, in moderate amounts, a component of good, bright coffees. It is a positive flavour acid in coffee that often leads to the perception of citrus fruits and adds high notes to the cup. Fine high-grown arabica coffees have more citric acid than robusta types.

Related Terms: Brightness, Liveliness, Chlorogenic Acid, Acetic Acid, Malic Acid, Phosphoric Acid, Acidity


Citrus

Qualities in coffee that are reminiscent of a citrus fruit; orange, lemon, grapefruit, kumquat, etc. Usually these terms imply a brightness in the coffee, a more acidic, wet-processed type of coffee.

Related Terms: Citric Acid, Fruited


Classic

Classic is a term I use to describe coffees made in the tradition of a particular growing region, and specific to that area. It is a general characterization of a coffee, implying that it fits an ideal, predetermined taste profile for that particular origin. For wet-processed Central American coffees a balanced cup with clean Flavours, light-to-medium body, and good acidity would be "classic" for that area. Traditional cultivars, Typica and Bourbon coffees, often recall classic flavour profiles, well-documented for a growing area.

Related Terms: Origin flavour, Cultivar flavour, Mouthfeel, flavour, Aroma, Restrained, Cupping, Sensory Analysis


Clean Cup

Clean cup refers to a coffee free of taints and defects. It does not imply sanitary cleanliness, or that coffees that are not clean (which are dirty) are unsanitary. It refers to the Flavours, specifically the absence of hard notes, fruity-fermenty Flavours, earthy Flavours or other off notes.

Related Terms: Aroma, flavour, Mouthfeel, Cultivar flavour, Origin flavour, Cupping, Sensory Analysis, Clear


Clear

Clarity refers to well-defined characteristics in the cup, aromas or Flavours that come into sharp focus and are recognized easily and distinctly. It also implies clarity of the brew, perhaps lighter mouthfeel, and sharper (good acidic) qualities

Related Terms: Structured, Balance, Well-knit


Complex

The co-presence of many aroma and flavour attributes, with multiple layers. A general impression of a coffee, similar to judgments such as "balanced" or "structured"

Related Terms: Aroma, Afternose, Aftertaste, Cupping, flavour, Sensory Analysis, Intensity, Balance, Structured


Creamy

A mouthfeel description indicating thickness and soft, rounded texture. See also buttery.

Related Terms: Body, Mouthfeel, Aftertaste, Sensory Analysis, Cupping, Buttery


Creosol

A burnt flavour taste caused by phenolic compounds from dark roast levels.

Related Terms: Roasting, First Crack, Second Crack, Degree Of Roast, flavour, Aroma


Crisp

Crisp can have several meanings, since it modifies other flavour terms. Crisp acidity might mean bracing, fresh fruit acids. Crisp chocolate notes might refer to tangy bittersweetness. It involves something that occurs briefly, and that provokes reaction, normally positive.

Related Terms: Clear, Clean, Structure, Balance


Cultivar flavour

In-the-cup coffee Flavours (and in extension aromatics) that result from the plant material used to produce the coffee. In general, the Coffea Arabica sub-species does not display strong flavour distinctions between cultivars as one might find with wine or other fruits. Any Flavours from the cultivar are highly influenced by the growing environment and processing, but in some cases cultivars have distinct taste recognizable to most coffee drinkers, as with Pacamara or Gesha types. Robusta and Liberica have distinct Flavours, but these are different sub-species: Coffea Canephora (robusta) and Coffea Liberica.

Related Terms: Cultivar, Varietal, Origin flavour, Bourbon, Typica, Caturra, Catuai, Catimor, Organoleptic


Defect

In coffee, a defect refers to specific preparation problems with the green coffee, or a flavour problem found in the cupping process. Bad seeds in the green coffee sample are termed defects, and scored against the coffee to determine it's grade. Also, defect Flavours are those found in cupping the coffee, and described by a host of unfavorable terms, such as Skunky, Dirty, Cappy, Soapy, Animal-like, Sour, etc. Roast problems can produce defect Flavours, as well as poor sorting or preparation of the coffee, mistakes in transportation and storage, problems at the wet mill, bad picking of the fruit or problems going back to the tree itself.

Related Terms: Scorched, Tipped, Sour, Skunky, Baggy, Coffee Grading, Cupping


Dirty Cup

Dirty cup is a general term implying some form of taint, usually an earthy defect, but also a mixed defect of ferment, hardness, dirt, moldy Flavours etc.

Related Terms: Defect


Dry Fragrance

In the cupping procedure for tasting and scoring coffee, this is the smell of the dry, ground coffee before hot water is added. The term fragrance is used since it is normally applied to things we smell but do not consume (perfume, for example), whereas aroma is usually applied to foods and beverages.

Related Terms: Wet Aroma, Cupping


Earthy

Sumatra coffees can have a positive earthy flavour, sometimes described as "wet earth" or "humus" or "forest" Flavours. But Earthy is a flavour term with some ambivalence, used positively in some cases, negatively in others. Usually, if we use the term dirty, groundy or swampy, we are implying a negative earth flavour, but earthy itself in Indonesia coffees is a positive assertion. Earthy in a Central America wet-process coffee is NOT a positive term though, since it is out of character, and does not fit the flavour profile

Related Terms: Dirty, Hard, Defect, flavour, Aroma


Effervescent

While coffee is not a carbonated beverage, at times a combination of factors (brightness/acidity with a light mouthfeel) can make the coffee dance on the palate. I use the term effervescent to describe this light and lively sensation.

Related Terms: Mouthfeel, Acidity, Brightness


Ferment

Ferment is the sour off flavour, often vinegar-like, that results from several possible problems. It might be the result of seriously over-ripe coffee cherry. It can come from coffee cherry that was not pulped the same day it was picked, and/or was exposed to high heat between picking and processing. Often it comes from poor practices at the wet mill, when coffee is left too long in the fermentation tank, or old coffee that is over-fermented is mixed with new coffee.

Related Terms: Processing, Winey, Fruity, Vinegar, Defect, Acetic Acid


Finish

Similar to aftertaste, but it refers to the impression as the coffee leaves the palate. Aftertaste is the sensations gathered after the coffee has left the mouth. We combine these to form the "final flavour impression" of the coffee

Related Terms: Sensory Analysis, flavour, Cupping, Aftertaste, Afternose, Aroma


flavour

This is the overall impression in the mouth, including the above ratings as well as tastes that come from the roast. There are 5 "Primary Tastes" groupings (Sour, Sweet ,Salty, Bitter, Savory (Umami) and many "Secondary Tastes," as you can see on the Tasters flavour Wheel. As the primary category in taste evaluation (what coffee would you want to drink that smelled good and tasted awful?) it is of great importance. But in a sense the flavour impression is divided between this score AND the Finish/ Aftertaste score.

Related Terms: Origin Character, Roast Character, Cupping Score, Finish, flavour Profile, Basic Flavours


flavour Profile

flavour Profile implies a graphical impression of a particular coffee, whether it be an artistic portrait or data graph of the perception of flavour compounds. In the case of our spider graph charts in each of our coffee reviews, this could be considered a flavour profile. It implies the inter-relationship of Flavours.

Related Terms: Cupping, Sensory Analysis, Roast Profile


flavour Wheel

A term that probably refers to the SCAA flavour Wheel, an analysis tool adapted from the wine industry. Half of it is dedicated to chiefly negative, defective Flavours, while the other is mainly positive aspects. The hierarchy of flavour and aroma origins it connotes is highly questionable, but it remains a useful (if limited) tool for assigning language to sensory experience.

Related Terms: flavour, Cupping, Sensory Analysis


Foresty

A flavour found in rustic Indonesia coffees, wet-hulled types from Sulawesi and Sumatra in particular. It is sometimes called "Forest Floor" Flavours and refers to a combined set of sensory experience, like a walk in the forest: earthy, humus, woodsy, mushroomy. reminicient

Related Terms: Cupping, Humus, Earthy, Rustic, Sensory Analysis


Fruited

In some coffee taster's lexicon, "fruity" means the coffee is tainted with fruit, and "fruited" means a coffee is graced by positive fruit notes. We don't exactly see the difference in terms of these two words, but the question of fruit Flavours emerging in a coffee context is critical. Is it a good quality? Is it fresh, aromatic, sweet fruit? Is it ripe, or is it over-ripe, fermenty, vinegary fruit? And there's a side argument as well: did the fruit Flavours come from well-prepared coffee, or did it emerge in a process where the coffee had too much contact with the mucilage of the coffee cherry. (This might happen in over-fermenting, in a hybrid process such as Indonesia wet-hulling, or in poorly executed dry-processing).

Related Terms: Fruity


Fruity

In some coffee taster's lexicon, "fruity" means the coffee is tainted with fruit, and "fruited" means a coffee is graced by positive fruit notes. We don't exactly see the difference in terms of these two words, but the question of fruit Flavours emerging in a coffee context is critical. Is it a good quality? Is it fresh, aromatic, sweet fruit? Is it ripe, or is it over-ripe, fermenty, vinegary fruit? And there's a side argument as well: did the fruit Flavours come from well-prepared coffee, or did it emerge in a process where the coffee had too much contact with the mucilage of the coffee cherry. (This might happen in over-fermenting, in a hybrid process such as Indonesia wet-hulling, or in poorly executed dry-processing).

Related Terms: Fruited, Fermented, Fermenty


Grainy

A roast-related flavour, sometimes used negatively, but it can also be a positive flavour attribute. Usually grain Flavours indicate a too-light roast, stopped before 1st crack concluded, like under-developed grain flavour. It can also result from baking the coffee, long roasts at low temperatures. Grain sweetness in some coffees is desirable, like malted barley, wheat, toast, brown bread, malt-o-meal, graham cracker, etc.

Related Terms: Under-roasted, First Crack, Light Roast


Grassy

Greenish flavour in the cup, usually indicating early crop, unrested coffee. This is a fresh cut grass flavour, chlorophyll-like, not a dried grass or hay flavour that would indicate old, past crop coffee.

Related Terms: Greenish, Rest, Processing, Parchment


Greenish

A smell or flavour of fresh-cut green plants, vegetable leaves or grass, usually indicating fresh new-crop coffees that have not fully rested in parchment. Part of the expertise of cupping lots at origin before export is to see the potential cup quality despite the greenish Flavours of young, unrested coffee.

Related Terms: Sensory Analysis, Taint, Defect, Crop


Guanabana

A tropical fruit with distinct sweet flavour of strawberry-pineapple as well as a tart citrus accent, found in some coffees (Colombia Huila and Cauca comes to mind)

Related Terms: flavour, Cupping, Sensory Analysis, Aftertaste, Aroma, Fruited, Guayaba


Guava

In coffee, the very aromatic tropical fruit note of Guava. (Guayaba in Spanish)

Related Terms: Guanabana, Fruited, flavour, Acidity


Guayaba

The Spanish term for Guava, a tropical fruit flavour found in some coffees, fruited Colombia types for example. Goiabada is the sweet Guava candy paste, and this is found in some Cauca coffees as well as other origins.

Related Terms: flavour, Cupping, Sensory Analysis, Aftertaste, Aroma, Fruited


Herbal

A flavour descriptor in coffee reminiscent of herbs, usually meaning aromatic, savory, leafy dried herbs. Usually, more specific descriptions are given, whether is is a floral herb, or sage-like, etc. In reality, there are very different herbal notes, from grassy types, to dried vegetal, to floral, to green. It could hint at rustic qualities, it could indicate an unclean cup flavour, or it could also be a clean and refined cup quality. So it is important to look at the context the term is used within.

Related Terms: Afternose, Aftertaste, Cupping, flavour, Sensory Analysis, Aroma, Intensity, Tenadam, Sage, Mint


Hidey

This descriptor is somewhat reminiscent of the smell of animal hides, similar to leathery. It is not necessarily considered as a negative attribute but is generally used to describe strong notes. Hidey Flavours can be found in Yemeni coffees as part of their rustic qualities, but in a clean coffee such as a Ethiopia wet-process, hidey would certainly be a defect flavour.

Related Terms: Barnyard, Animal-like, Leathery


Honey

In coffee, honey-like sweetness is often found, but we use terms such as refined honey (highly filtered and processed) as opposed to raw honey rustic honey sweetness. This form of sweetness is largely a dynamic of roast levels and roast profiles as well. Honey (or its Spanish translation "Miel") can also refer to a pulp natural coffee.

Related Terms: Sweet, Pulp Natural


Intensity

We have a simple scale to rate intensity, from Mild to Bold. Low intensity does not mean low quality! Delicate, mild coffees can be top notch, whereas some may not like the aggressive, over-the-top character of coffees we rate as Bold.

Related Terms: Sensory Analysis, flavour, Cupping, Aftertaste, Afternose, Aroma


Jasmine

A very positive floral quality in coffee, usually with a strong aromatic component, reminiscent of jasmine flower or tea. There are many forms of jasmine; the common flowering vines, teas, potpourri, etc.

Related Terms: Floral, Aroma


Leathery

This descriptor is somewhat reminiscent of the leather, and is sometimes distinguished as "fresh leather". It is not necessarily a defect, but does describe a quality that is intense and rustic. Yemeni coffees can have leathery character as a positive attribute, but a wet-process Panama, for example, should not be leathery!

Related Terms: Hidey


Liveliness

Another euphemistic term to describe acidity in coffee. A lively coffee has more high, acidic notes. Not to be confused with the brighter roast Flavours of light roast levels, such as City ot City+ roasts. Read more about acidity to understand it's use as a flavour term, not in reference to the quantity of acidity in coffee.

Related Terms: Acidity, Brightness


Malic Acid

Malic acid is yet another of the many acids that adds to favorable perceptions of cup quality; malic acid often adds apple-like Flavours. In Kenya coffees, it reaches levels of 6.6 g/kg whereas robusta coffees measure about about one-third to one-half of that level.

Related Terms: Acidity, Brightness, Liveliness, Chlorogenic Acid, Acetic Acid, Phosphoric Acid, Citric Acid


Mellow

Coffee that has been hanging out in the warehouse, but not really helping out with the work, just relaxing over in the corner, can be described as "mellow coffee". If the coffee gets up and stretches its legs every so often, it is still mellow. But if it starts to complain about being bored, it is no longer mellow.

Related Terms: After-dinner Roast, Smooth, Rich


Minerally

A flavour or aroma reminiscent of minerals, which can be a positive characteristic if it is a secondary flavour sensation. Salty coffees can be similar to minerally coffees. This is sometimes found in softer Brazils, but we have found it in high grown lots from Guatemala, Panama and other areas, when the coffee has good quality but is not sweet. There might be a relation between old coffee trees and this flavour as well.

Related Terms: Salty, flavour, Aroma


Mint

A flavour hint of mint found in coffee, which could indicate a clean and brisk mint hint, or a more rustic dried mint. It might even suggest a medicinal mint note, but this would be clear from the context it is used within. Most often we would use it to indicate a mouth-refreshing, clean, positive quality.

Related Terms: Herbal, Tenedam, Sage


Mouthfeel

A major component in the flavour profile of a coffee, it is a tactile sensation in the mouth used in cupping. quite literally can refer to how a coffee feels in the mouth or its apparent texture. In cupping mouthfeel is scored at light City roast level but mouthfeel can be directly affected in other ways by roast level as well, brew strength, and proper resting of the coffee after roasting. That is, Espresso and Dark Roast coffees have noticeably different mouthfeel than the same coffees at lighter levels. Body is synonymous with mouthfeel, but the latter implies a wider range of possible qualities, whereas body traditionally implies viscosity only. Mouthfeel is perceived by the trigemenal receptors, nerve fibers that surround taste buds.

Related Terms: Aroma, Body, Cupping, flavour


Mulling Spice

A spice mix for adding flavour and aroma to a warm beverage, apple cider or wine. This mix might include all or an assortment of the following; allspice, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, star anise and various dried fruit peels. Also see warming spices

Related Terms: Warming Spice


Muscovado

Also known as "Barbados sugar" or "moist sugar," it is very dark brown and slightly coarser and stickier than most brown sugars. Unlike most other brown sugars, which are made by adding molasses to refined white sugar, muscovado takes its flavour and color from its source, sugarcane juice. This is a flavour that can be found in the sweetness of dry-processed or pulp natural coffees, mostly.

Related Terms: Refined Sugar, Turbinado Sugar, Rustic


Musty

Musty refers to an aroma and/or flavour that ranges from slight intensity to mildewy defect flavour. Unlike Mildew taint, musty can have a slight (VERY slight) positive connotation when it is extremely mild, and linked to foresty Flavours in Indonesia coffees. It can also relate to the hidey, leathery Flavours of dry-process Yemeni coffees. In any greater intensity, or in a coffee profile that should be clean, musty is NOT a positive quality.

Related Terms: Sulawesi, Sumatra, Yemen, Indonesia, Foresty, Hidey, Leathery, Mildewy, Defect. Rustic


Nutty

Nutty is a broad flavour term, reminiscent of nuts. It is tied intrinsically to roast taste and the degree of roast, since a coffee that cups nutty at City+ will not be so at FC+. Nutty is usually a positive term but varies greatly as there are so many forms: hazelnut, walnuts, peanut, cashew, almond, etc. Occasionally, nutty can be a negative taste term, especially if it is out of character for a coffee. Some lower grown coffees can have less favorable nut Flavours that imply a softness in bean density, and lack of quality. Nut skins is also a flavour tied to a drying, slightly astringent mouthfeel.

Related Terms: Aroma, flavour, Mouthfeel, Cultivar flavour, Origin flavour, Cupping, Sensory Analysis, Chocolate, Bittersweet


Organoleptic

Organoleptic refers to any sensory properties of, in this case, the coffee beverage. It involves flavour, color, odor and mouthfeel. Organoleptic testing involves inspection through visual examination, smelling and tasting. In coffee we call this form of sensory analysis "Cupping".

Related Terms: Cupping, Sensory Analysis


Origin flavour

"Origin flavour" is a term we started to use in distinction to "Roast Taste". Origin Flavours (from specific fruit, berry, floral, herbal, confectionary, food-like, etc.) are broader in scope that roast-derived notes. Roast Flavours are often described as sweet to bittersweet, caramel to chocolate to burnt, and might be found across coffee growing regions. These are conceptually useful, but we acknowledge they are flawed distinctions since the compounds that form "roast taste" Flavours are inextricably linked to the compounds that result in the "origin" Flavours. But to describe the way that dark roast tastes eclipse origin distinctness of coffee, it is useful. The term "Origin Distinctness" is a related concept, as well as Cultivar flavour.

Related Terms: Pyrolysis, Second Crack, Caramelization, Roast Taste, Degree Of Roast, First Crack, Roasting


Panela

Found in Colombia (and noted to be best in Pitalito and Pedregal), Panela is tan-colored cakes of sugar that are not fully refined. They can range from caramel-vanilla Flavours to floral. From Wikipedia: The sugarcane plant is processed in a large press, to obtain the juice, which is cooked at very high temperatures. The panela can be manufactured in disc-shaped pieces or in cubic pieces of cake form and is usually gold or brown in color. Besides sugar, panela also contains large amounts of proteins, calcium, iron and ascorbic acid. In other countries I have heard it called Panocha and Chancaca. It is sometimes called Piloncillo in Mexico.

Related Terms: Honey, Sweetness, Caramel


Papilla

Papilla (or Papillae in plural) mushroom-like projections on the tongue that contain taste buds. These perceive basic Flavours and textures, whereas much of what is sensed as flavour is informed by the aromatics perceived by the olfactory. There are 4 types of papilla on the palate:

  • Circumvallate papillae (contains taste buds)
  • Fungiform papilla (contains taste buds)
  • Filiform papilla (does not contain taste buds)
  • Foliate papillae (contains taste buds)

Related Terms: Aroma, flavour, Mouthfeel, Cultivar flavour, Origin flavour, Cupping, Sensory Analysis


Passionfruit

It is native to South America and widely grown in India, New Zealand, the Caribbean, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, California, southern Florida, Hawaii, Australia, East Africa, Israel and South Africa. The passion fruit is round to oval, yellow or dark purple at maturity, with a soft to firm, juicy interior filled with numerous seeds. The fruit can be grown to eat or for its juice, which is often added to other fruit juices to enhance aroma. It is known as Maracuya, or Maracuja in Latin America

Related Terms: Guayaba, Fruited, Aroma, Aftertaste, Sensory Analysis, Cupping, flavour, Guanabana


Piney

A slightly resinous pine sap flavour, unusual but attractive in some cases.

Related Terms: flavour, Cupping, Sensory Analysis, Aftertaste, Aroma


Piquant

Meaning pleasantly pungent or zesty in taste, spicy, provocative, sapid.

Related Terms: Zesty, Piquant, Lively, Spicy, Tart


Pomelo

Ancestral grapefruit from Southeast Asia - it has mild grapefruit flavour but low bitterness. In a coffee description , this mean a mild and not-so-aggressive citrus flavour, or citric acidity.

Related Terms: Citrus, Acidity, Citric Acidity


Potato Defect

Research conducted by CIRAD and OCIBU over a six year period in Burundi has shown this off-flavour to be caused by a yet unidentified bacterial agent that enters the cherry skin and produces a pyrazine chemical toxin that binds to the forming “green” beans. They first thought it was caused by a bacterial transmission via an insect vector, the Antestia bug that pierces the coffee cherry wall and sucks sugars; but later they concluded that anything that pierces the cherry wall can allow the bacteria to enter and eventually release the the nasty ‘pyrazine-based’ toxin. Because you can’t detect it until you roast it, this defect is a real bummer for roasting companies and a real challenge for research. - Culled from Tim Schilling's blog post on the topic, since it is the best description of the defect that is out there...

Related Terms: Black Bean, Cupping, Defect, Sour


Prime Attribute

Part of our coffee reviews, we summarize the main (most obvious) sensory experience of a coffee. This is rated right after Intensity

Related Terms: Sensory Analysis, flavour, Cupping, Aftertaste, Afternose, Aroma, Intensity


Pulpy

Can refer to flavour or mouthfeel. In terms of flavour, it means the negative flavour of fermenty coffee fruit, indicating there were errors in the coffee processing.

Related Terms: Taint, Sensory Analysis, Defect


Pungent

Refers to an aggressive, intense aroma or flavour, often related to spices (pepper) or roast tastes. Pungent foods are often called "spicy", meaning a sharp or biting character, but not unpleasant. Bittersweet tangy roast Flavours are something we sometimes call pungent, but otherwise it is strong spice notes.

Related Terms: Sensory Analysis, flavour, Cupping, Aftertaste, Aroma, Intensity


Refined Sugar

Refined sugar refers to common white sugar. In coffee tasting, it refers to a clear, clean sweetness, with an absence of other characteristics, as might be found in Muscavado, Turbinado or Brown sugars.

Related Terms: Cane Sugar, Sweetness, Brown Sugar, Turbinado, Muscovado


Restrained

A descriptive term I use to communicate a well-structured, classic, clean flavour profile from a wet-processed coffee. This would be in opposition to coffees with exotic character, flamboyant and "loud", a fruity dry process coffee, a gesha coffee, etc. But restrained coffees are great "daily drinkers", and more approachable as well.

Related Terms: Classic, Balanced


Roast Taste

"Roast Taste" is a term we started to distinguish it from "Origin flavour". We use the "roast taste" term define the set of Flavours that result from the degree-of-roast, how light or dark a coffee is roasted. These are Flavours related to caramelization, the browning of sugars, or other roast reactions. The wide range of Flavours from sweet to bittersweet, from caramel to chocolate to carbony burnt tones, are the ones most often assigned to the set of "roast tastes". These are conceptually useful, but flawed distinctions since the compounds that form "roast taste" Flavours are inextricably linked to the compounds that result in the "origin" Flavours. But to describe the way that dark roast tastes eclipse origin distinctness of coffee, it is useful.

Related Terms: Maillard Reaction, Pyrolysis, Origin flavour, Second Crack, First Crack, Roasting, Caramelization


Round

Usually referring to mouthfeel, a sense of completeness and fullness

Related Terms: Body, Mouthfeel, Aftertaste


Rustic

What is Rustic? This is a general term we came up with: A general characterization of pleasanty "natural" Flavours, less spohisticated and less refined, but appealing. Dried Apricots from Sunmaid at the supermarket, vs. unsulphered dried apricots from the bin at the Health Food Coop. White sugar vs. Muscovado natural dry brown sugar. Buckwheat pancakes vs Bisquick. Bacon from the supermarket vs bacon from the farm. None of those are what I am talking about with the Robusta, but rustic is a lower process level in general, and might involve more earthy, woody, foresty, mushroom, mossy hints like a Sumatra, or might be more fruity, pulpy, winey, ripe fruit, light ferment, balsamic vinegar etc etc in a fruited natural coffee. Sometimes I refer to lemonade from a mix and homemade honey lemonade, hand-pulped, etc. So it's a very general and broad comparison. It could be made along many flavour lines, such as fruity, or sweet, or herbal (which tends to be weighted toward rustic), or even floral. Very clean coffees, traditional wet process types, would rarely have rustic Flavours. Natural dry-process coffees would almost always have rustic Flavours. Hybrid processes such as pulp natural (miel or honey coffees) range between wet- and dry-process. Mechanical demucilage coffees can be very clean, very rustic, or anything inbetween depending on process conditions.

Related Terms: Sensory Analysis, flavour, Cupping, Aftertaste, Afternose, Aroma, Intensity


Sage

A flavour hint of sage found in coffee, either leafy sage, dried sage, or sage flower. This could indicate a more rustic cup quality, or even defect flavour in dried sage, or a very clean floral aspect.

Related Terms: Herbal, Tenedam, Mint


Salty

Salty is one of four basic sapid (in the mouth) tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter (and possibly a 5th called Umami which indicates savory Flavours). In coffee, saltiness is not usually a positive quality, but more moderate amounts related to minerally Flavours can be positive. We have found some Brazil coffees to have salty and mineral-like character.

Related Terms: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter, Umami, Minerally


Sapid Flavours

Pleasant tastes, referring to "in the mouth" sensations derived from the basic Flavours: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, savory (umami). In a broader sense, sapid means "pleasing to the mind", referring to the intersection between pleasant sensory input and mental enjoyment.

Related Terms: Cupping, Aroma, flavour, Mouthfeel, Sensory Analysis


Sensory Analysis

Sensory Analysis is a broader term for all qualitative evaluation of food and beverage. In coffee, it is a better term for what we call "cupping"

Related Terms: Cupping, Cupper


Silky

A mouthfeel description indicating a delicate, light, elegant softness and smoothness. Usually refers to a lighter body than terms such as velvety, or creamy.

Related Terms: Body, Mouthfeel, Aftertaste, Sensory Analysis, Cupping, Buttery, Velvety


Smokey

This smell and flavour is similar to fireplace effluence, campfire, or burnt food. Dark-roasted or oven-roasted coffees can have smokey Flavours, or roasters where the air is recycled in the roast drum (or does not vent at all). Sometimes green coffee can have a smokey hint, and this might be found in the roasted coffee too, suggesting bad mechanical drying at the coffee mill. Smokey hints might be a positive quality in certain exotic coffees (Monsooned India, Aged Java and Aged Sumatra come to mind) or in rustic Yemeni coffees.

Related Terms: Burnt, Scorching, Tipping, Aged Coffee, Defect


Sour

Sour is one of four basic sapid (in the mouth) tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter (and possibly a 5th called Umami which indicates savory Flavours). In coffee, sourness in moderate amounts os favorable, although the term has negative connotations. Sourness can result from too-light roasts, which have a corresponding bitterness. It can also be the result of acidity, which is usually a favorable characteristic.

Related Terms: Acidity, Brightness, Liveliness, Chlorogenic Acid, Acetic Acid, Phosphoric Acid, Citric Acid


Sparkles

Sparkles is a key coffee quality term, and refers to brightness in the cup. Bright things often shine, both visually and in a gustatory sense, and that is expressed among tradespeople as sparkley, sparkles, or "this coffee is well-sparkled." It is not related to crystals, as in the proprietary "flavour crystals".

Related Terms: Bright, Acidity, Effervescent


Spongy

A reference to the mouthfeel of a coffee when it leaves a tactile impression of sponges. This is often found in Liberica coffees, and can be unpleasant if excessive.

Related Terms: Strecker Degradation, Body, Mouthfeel, Umami


Structured

Like Balance, structure is an esoteric term. After all, you can't taste a "structure" nor can you taste a "balance." They come from a sense of all the sensory components of a coffee, characterizing the relation between Flavours, acids, mouthfeel and aftertaste as well-defined and comprehensive. Well-structured coffee has an architectural feel, as something that is "built", well-founded, solid, with Flavours and sapid experiences that relate well to each other. Usually it refers directly to the acidity, or perhaps we might say the acidity is a core component of structure, since a coffee with weak acidity tastes limp and flat.

Related Terms: Well-knit, Balance


Sucrose

Sucrose is largely destroyed by the roasting process through various reactions and thermal caramelization. It is destroyed at this rate: 2.9% remains in a light roast; 0.9% in a medium roast, 0% in a dark roast. Sucrose is sweeter before caramelization, but perhaps more aromatic after caramelization. Still, if there is no sweet taste, the perception of caramelized sucrose will not be sweet. "Sucrose is the principle sugar in coffee. The melting point of pure crystalline sucrose is in the 320-392 degrees F with 370 degrees F most commonly accepted. Degradation of dry sucrose can occur as low as 194 degrees F. and begins with the cleavage of the glycosidic bond followed by condensation and the formation of water. Between 338 and 392 degrees F, caramelization begins. It is at this point that water and carbon dioxide fracture and out-gassing begins causing the first mechanical crack. These are the chemical reactions, occurring at approximately 356 degrees F, that are exothermic. Once carmelization begins, it is very important that the coffee mass does not exotherm (lose heat) or the coffee will taste "baked" in the cup. A possible explanation is that exothermy of the charge mass interrupts long chain polymerization and allows cross linking to other constituents. Both the actual melting point of sucrose and the subsequent transformation, or caramelization, reaction are effected by the presence of water, ammonia, and proteinatious substances. Dark roasts represent a higher degree of sugar caramelization than light roasts. The degree of caramelization is an excellent and high resolution method for classifying roasts."

Related Terms: Sweetness, Trigonelline, Roast


Sweaty

Usually a taste defect, reminiscent of the smell of flavour of sweat, sometimes considered mildly positive. It can be the result of bad storage conditions for green coffee, but we have also experienced it from roast profiles where the seed is overroasted on the interior due to too much conduction in the thermal transfer. It is an unsweet taste. Some Kenyas can be mildly sweaty, i.e. akin to minerally, not with a stench of foul sweat. It can be found in Yemeni coffees as well, along with leather and hide notes, and has some relation to musty Flavours in Indonesia coffees.

Related Terms: Musty, Leathery, Hidey, Defect


Sweet

Sweetness is one of four basic sapid (in the mouth) tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter (and possibly a 5th called Umami which indicates savory Flavours). In coffee, sweetness is a highly desirable quality, and the green bean has many sugars and polysaccharides. However, the main sugar, sucrose, is largely destroyed by roasting, with only 2.9% remaining at a light roast, and 0% at a darker roast. When caramelized sugars have aromatic sweetness, but not sapid sweetness on the palate. Hence, over-roasting is to be avoided to preserve some sweetness.

Related Terms: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter, Umami


Tangy

An adjective modifying a flavour descriptor, decribing a sharp effect; tangy citrus, tangy bittersweet flavour, tangy green apple.

Related Terms: Zesty, Piquant, Lively, Spicy


Tannic

The term Tannins refers to the use of wood tannins from oak in tanning animal hides into leather. Having the bitterness or astringency of Tannins. Tannins are plant polyphenols found across the flora kingdom.

Related Terms: Bitter, Acetic Acid, Malic Acid, Phosphoric Acid, Citric Acid, Robusta, Arabica


Tarry

A dark roast-related flavour of pungent, intense bittering roast flavour, reminicent of the smell of tar.

Related Terms: Roasting, Second Crack, Degree Of Roast, flavour, Aroma, Creasol, Tarry, Carbony


Tea-like

A term used to describe coffees with light, astringent body and potent aromatics. A flavour associate with Indian Specialty coffee more than not as well as some Rwandan flavour profiles.

Related Terms: Astringent


Tenadam

The name in Amharic for Rue, used as an herbal additive to coffee. You can find the flavour of tenadam in some Ethiopia coffees (without actually adding it to the cup!) Rue is Ruta chalepensis and has properties as a medicinal herb as well, for common cold, stomach ache, diarrhea, and influenza. In Oromo it is called Talatam

Related Terms: Herbal, Sage, Mint


Transparency

Transparency is a flavour characterization synonymous with clarity, or a business ethics term, implying that as much information as possible about a coffee is made available to the consumer.

Related Terms: Direct Trade, Fair Trade, Farm Gate


Turbinado

Turbinado sugar, also known as turbinated sugar, is made from sugar cane extract. It is produced by crushing freshly cut sugar cane; the juice obtained is evaporated by heat, then crystallized. The crystals are spun in a centrifuge, or turbine (thus the name), to remove excess moisture, resulting in the characteristic large, light brown crystals. It is a mildly rustic sweetness, as found in coffee, but not quite as much so as Muscovado sugar

Related Terms: Muscovado Sugar, Refined Sugar


Umami

Umami is a Japanese word meaning savory, a "deliciousness" factor deriving specifically from detection of the natural amino acid, glutamic acid, or glutamates common in meats, cheese, broth, stock, and other protein-heavy foods. The action of umami receptors explains why foods treated with monosodium glutamate (MSG) often taste "heartier". In coffee, savory relates to specific brothy, food-like character and can conflict with other basic Flavours such as sweet, but is not undesirable. It can be found in Indonesia coffees, but has appeared favorably in Colombias we have stocked as well.

Related Terms: Sweet, Salty, Bitter, Sour


Velvety

A mouthfeel description indicating elegant softness, refined smoothness. See Silky as well.

Related Terms: Body, Mouthfeel, Aftertaste, Sensory Analysis, Cupping, Buttery, Silky


Vinegar

Vinegar-like qualities are a defective flavour taint in coffee, resulting perhaps from poor processing, fermentation, sanitation. Usually, this comes from high levels of acetic acid, and come with a sour edge. Lower levels can lead to positive winey notes. Over-ripe coffee cherries, or delays in getting picked cherry to the mill can be the cause as well.

Related Terms: Acetic Acid, Fermenty, Fermented, Defect, Sour, Winey


Warming Spice

A term indicating a spice blend with ingredients such as ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, anise pepper. While it is not exactly the same thing, warming spice blends are often similar to mulling spice mixes used for hot apple ciders and such. Indian foods are also big on warming qualities of spice blends... This is basically a similar set used to spice hot beverages, referred to as mulling spices.

Related Terms: Zesty, Tangy, Spicy, Mulling Spice


Well-knit

"Well-knit" is yet another esoteric term, being something that you cannot directly smell or taste. It describes the good inter-relation of independent sensory characteristics, distinct yet welded together in a positive way. It is also referred to as "tightly knit" to mean closely-paired Flavours.

Related Terms: Structure, Balance, Clarity


Wet Aroma

In cupping, wet aroma refers to the smell of wet coffee grinds, after hot water is added. The aromatics of a coffee greatly influence it's flavour profile, and comes from the perception of the gases released by brewed coffee. Aroma is greatest in the middle roasts and is quickly overtaken by carbony smells in darker roasts. Aroma is distinct from the dry fragrance from the coffee grounds; in general fragrance describes things we do not eat (like perfume) and aroma pertains to food and beverage we consume. Aromatics as a term may encompass the entire aroma experience of a coffee. Aromatics are a huge part of flavour perception (remember the 'hold your nose and eat an onion experiment). Aromatics reach the olfactory bulb through the nose and "retro-nasaly" through the opening in the back of our palate. While some taste is sapid, perceived through the tongue and palate via papillae, or taste buds, most of flavour quality is perceived through the olfactory bulb.

Related Terms: Sensory Analysis, Cupping, Dry Fragrance, Aroma, Aromatics


Wild

Wild Flavours in coffee is a general characterization that connotes something foreign or exotic in a flavour profile, usually somewhat unclean. This can be found in some East African coffees, although it is usually the result of poor processing or handling. For example Yemeni coffees have wild notes of hide, leather, earth, and such. To some these are defect Flavours.

Related Terms: Sensory Analysis, Cupping, Humus, Earthy, Rustic


Winey

Describes a wine-like flavour with a similar perceived acidity and fruit. Found most commonly in East African specialty coffees as well as in some centrals like Costa Rica. I will use it to describe ripe fruit notes, pleasantly so, but not pushed to the point of vinegar sourness (which would be over-ripe, fermenty flavour... not good).

Related Terms: Fruity, Ferment, Acidity


Woody

Generally a taste defect from age; old green coffee, perhaps yellowing in color. This is due to the drying out of the coffee over time, and as the moisture leaves the seed it takes organic compounds with it. Also, when coffee rehydrates itself, it brings in foreign odors, baggy and dirty tastes and smells. Aged coffees can have a positive hickory-like taste and aroma. This entry does not address positive wood qualities like cedar, and such. Also not to be confused with foresty or woodsy character in Indonesia coffees.

Related Terms: Baggy, Past Crop, Dirty, Aged Coffee, Foresty


Yeasty

A defect term referring to "honey" flavour but a bad rustic, yeast-like flavour. This is on the opposite end of the spectrum away from pure honey-like tastes

Related Terms: Cappy, Defect


Zacapa

Zacapa is the famous sweet and spicey rum of Guatemala. Sometimes this vanilla-laced rum note appears in coffee Flavours.

Related Terms: Sweet, Panela, Caramelization


Zesty

A flavour or mouthfeel characteristic, hinting at a tingly, prickly, lively or piquant aspect. Peppers, spice or citrus can all be zesty.

Related Terms: Tangy, Citrusy, Piquant

Want a more basic list of flavours commonly used for coffee? Check out our Coffee Flavour Descriptions page.


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