Coffee 101 – Taste Lesson

coffeesLast week we started our new Coffee 101 Series to help you better navigate the chaos of the coffee world. This week we are going to kick it up a notch with some terms that will better help describe your coffee flavors preferences. Terms like spicy, earthy, or winy are actually all ways that describe coffee. It may be hard to comprehend some of these terms and how they work within the grounds of the coffee but if you’ve ever tasted them, you know exactly what I am talking about.

If you sipped coffee that had a vanilla or cinnamon taste to it you might describe it as vanilla-y or cinnamon-y, but believe it or not, the term you are looking for is spicy. In coffee terms, spicy simply means it has a type of spice found in food, such as vanilla, cinnamon, or chili. If you tend to choose coffees with with fruity or floral flavors you have a taste for the exotic.  For those of you that gravitate towards flavors that may have a taste similar to wine your preference can described as winy. That can be a bit confusing because many wines have a fruity or floral essence in nature, so don’t confuse exotic with winy.  Lastly, if your coffee has an earthy note to it, you may find the aroma might have a hint of fresh earth, wet soil or raw potatoes. An earthy quality is either a defect or an exotic taste characteristic depending on who you talk to. :-)

Professional coffee tasters not only look at the flavor but also the body when rating a particular coffee. The body is basically the perceived weight or thickness of your coffee. It could range from being thin, like watery, to thick, such as a syrup consistency. Bitter coffee is a harsh, generally unpleasant taste you get on the back of your tongue most commonly found in a dark roast coffee. And if you’ve ever sipped a cup of coffee and thought it tasted salty, it is usually due to coffee that has been continuously heated after brewing is complete, a characteristic also known as briny.

Phew!  I bet you never thought coffee could be it’s own class, did you? After reading Coffee 101 Series, Coffee 101 – Food and Coffee Compliments and this post, are you starting to feel comfortable speaking the coffee language and defining your own personal coffee preferences?  Be on the look out next week for another Coffee 101 Series post that expands on coffee terms.  Don’t be shy, “raise your hand” in class and post your questions by commenting below.  There is no such thing as a dumb question, only the question that is not asked!