Glossary of Coffee
|Learn all about
coffee terms as far as coffee smells, coffee tastes, and
how coffee looks, one of the biggest coffee glossaries on
the Internet. You can scroll down the glossary, or click
on any letter below to immediately go to all the coffee
terms that begin with that letter. Have you ever wondered what "arabica", "french roast", or "robusta" really mean? Now you can find out fast & easy.
- acerbic: A taste fault in the
coffee brew giving an acrid and sour sensation on the
tongue. The result of long-chained organic compounds
due to excessive heat during the holding process after
- acid: A normal
characteristic of arabica coffees, particularly of
high-growth varieties. Some strains are sought for
this particular taste (Kenya), which is influenced by
the degree of roasting and does not seem to be
objectively expressed by pH measurement. Experts
recognize three types of acidity: 1) natural
desirable: acid, 2) natural undesirable: sour, and 3)
undesirable: process acidity (sometimes sought as a
substitute for natural acidity but generally has a
biting, puckery flavor.
- acidy: A primary coffee taste
sensation created as acids in the coffee combine with
the sugars to increase the overall sweetness of the
coffee. Found most often in washed arabica coffees
grown at elevations about 4,000 feet, Acidy coffees
range from piquant to nippy. A term used to describe a
coffee in which this desirable cup characteristic
occurs. Particularly desirable in Brazils and found in
most Milds. Colombians have both acid and body. An
acidy flavor is sharp and pleasing to the taste as
opposed to sour, sourish, or fermented. It denotes a
taste that has sharpness, snap, and life, compared to
a sweet, heavy, mellow flavor. Old crops are never
- acidity: Taste those high, thin
notes, the dryness the coffee leaves at the back of
your palate and under the edges of your tongue? This
pleasant tartness, snap, or twist is what coffee
people call acidity. It should be distinguished from
sour, which in coffee terminology means an unpleasant
sharpness. The acidy notes should be very clear and
bright in the Mexican, a little softer and richer in
the Sumatran, and overwhelming in the Yemen Mocha.
Aged coffees, and some old crop, low-grown coffees,
have little acidity and taste almost sweet. You may
not run into the terms acidity or acidy in your local
coffee seller's signs and brochures. Many retailers
avoid describing a coffee as acidy for fear consumers
will confuse a positive acidy brightness with an
unpleasant sourness. Instead you will find a variety
of creative euphemisms: bright, dry, sharp, vibrant,
etc. An acidy coffee is somewhat analogous to a dry
wine. In some coffees the acidy taste actually becomes
distinctively winey; the winey aftertaste should be
very clear in the Yemen Mocha. In brochures you may
find the aftertaste that I call winey described with
other terms; fruity is a favorite. Fruit connotes
sweetness, however; I find the better analogy is to
the sharpness of a dry wine, hence my preference for
the term winey. The main challenge is to recognize the
sensation, however; once you do that, you can call it
anything you like.
- acrid: A secondary coffee
taste sensation characterized by a predominantly
piercing sour sensation on the posterior sides of the
tongue. Caused by higher-than-normal percentage of
sour acids and a high concentration of salts. Typified
by an unwashed Rio coffee from Brazil.
- aftertaste: The sensation of
brewed coffee vapors, ranging from carbony to
chocolaty to spicy to turpeny. Released from the
residue remaining in the mouth after swallowing. Aged
A taste taint that gives coffee beans a less acidy
taste and greater body. The result of enzyme activity
in the green coffee beans creating a chemical change during the aging
process after harvesting.
- alkaline: A supplemental coffee
taste sensation characterized by a dry sensation at
the back of the tongue. Caused by the presence of
- arabica: "Coffee Arabica"
is the species name assigned to the coffee tree by
European botanist Linnaeus while categorizing the
flora of the Arabian peninsula.
- aroma: Strictly speaking,
aroma can't be separated from acidity and flavor.
Acidy coffees smell acidy, and richly flavored coffees smell richly flavored. Nevertheless, certain high,
fleeting notes are reflected most clearly in the nose
of a coffee, as some tasters say. There is frequently
a subtle floral note to some coffee that is
experienced most clearly in the aroma, particularly at
the moment the crust is broken in the traditional
tasting ritual. Of the three coffees I recommend for
your tasting, you are most likely to detect this fresh
floral note in the Yemen Mocha, but depending on the
roast and freshness of the coffee you could experience
it in any of the three samples. The best Colombian and Kona coffees are particularly noted for their floral aroma. The
sensation of the gases released from brewed coffee,
ranging from fruity to herby, as they are inhaled
through the nose.
- aromatic: Designates a coffee
that fully manifests the aroma characteristic of its
nature and origin.
- astringent: A secondary coffee
taste sensation characterized by a predominantly
searing, salty sensation on the anterior sides of the
tongue. Caused by acids increasing the saltiness.
Typified by an unwashed Indonesian robusta coffee.
Acids can cause astringency. In regard to coffee,
astringency is identified with undesirable acidity.
- baggy: An off-taste often
observed in cups from weakly roasted coffees that have been stored for a long time in unsuitable
- baked: A taste and odor taint
that gives the coffee brew a flat bouquet and insipid
taste. The result of the roasting process proceeding
with too little heat over too long a period. Generally
unpleasant characteristic of having an over-baked
taste in an over-heated coffee. Ranks in the following
order of intensity: cooked, baked or burnt.
- balanced: This is a difficult
term. When tasting coffees for defects, professional
tasters use the term to describe a coffee that does
not localize at any one point on the palate; in other
words, it is not imbalanced in the direction of some
one (often undesirable) taste characteristic. As a
term of general evaluation, balance appears to mean
that no one quality overwhelms all others, but there
is enough complexity in the coffee to arouse interest.
It is a term that on occasion damns with faint praise.
The Mexican sample should be most balanced, but it has
less to balance than the other two coffees. If you
tasted the Yemen Mocha against a standard Ethiopian
Harrar you would probably sense how the Yemen coffee
is similar to the Harrar, but much more balanced. A
well-balanced coffee contains all the basic
characteristics to the right extent.
- basic tastes: Sweet, sour, salt, and
bitter. Characterized respectively by sucrose,
tartaric acid, sodium chloride, and quinine.
- beany: Specific aroma of an
insufficiently roasted coffee that has not been able
to develop its full aroma.
- bitter: A basic taste
characterized by solution of quinine, caffeine, and
certain other alkaloids. Perceived primarily at the
back of the tongue. Generally normal characteristics
of coffees connected with their chemical constitution,
influenced by degree of roasting and the method of
preparing the brew. Canephora are more bitter than
arabica coffees. A desirable characteristic at a
- black beans: Dead coffee beans that
have dropped from the trees before harvesting. Used as
the basic unit for counting imperfections in grading
coffee on the New York Coffee Exchange. Has a
detrimental effect on coffee taste.
- bland: Lacking coffee flavor and characteristics. A primary coffee taste sensation
created as the sugars in the coffee combine with the
salts to reduce the overall saltiness of the coffee.
Found most often in washed arabica coffees grown at
elevations below 2,000 feet, such as a Guatemalan.
Bland coffees range from soft to neutral.
- body: Body or mouth feel is
the sense of heaviness, richness, and thickness at the
back of the tongue when you swish the coffee around
your mouth. The coffee is not actually heavy; it just
tastes that way. To follow a wine analogy again,
burgundies and certain other red wines are heavier in body than clarets and most white wines.
In this case wine and coffee tasters use the same term
for a similar phenomenon. The Mexican coffee should
have the lightest body and the Sumatran the heaviest,
with the Yemen Mocha somewhere in the middle. If you
can't distinguish body, try pouring milk into each
coffee. Note how the flavor of the heavy-bodied
Sumatran carries through the milk, whereas the flavor
of the Mexican dies away. If you drink coffee with milk, you should buy a heavy-bodied coffee. If
you drink black coffee, you may prefer a
lighter-bodied variety. The physical properties of the beverage resulting in the tactile sensations perceived in the
mouth during and after ingestion. Used to describe the
mouthfeel of a drink, corresponding to a certain
- bouquet: The total aromatic
profile created by the sensations of gases and vapors
on the olfactory membranes as a result of the volatile
organic compounds present in the fragrance,
aroma, nose, and aftertaste of coffee.
- brackish: A taste fault giving
the coffee brew a salty and alkaline sensation. The
result of salts and alkaline inorganic material left after evaporation
of water from the brew due to excessive heat after
- bready: Bready taste manifests
in coffees that have not been roasted long enough or
at a high enough temperature to bring out the flavor
- brew: Specific taste of a
good home brew prepared properly.
- briny: Applies to a coffee
that has been over-roasted.
- buttery: relatively high
level of oily material suspended in the coffee beverage.
The result of substantial amounts of fat present in
the beans. Most often a characteristic of high
coffee-to-water ratio brews.
- canephora: The coffee species
second in importance to "Coffea Arabica," "Coffea
Robusta" is known by botanists as "Coffea Canephora."
- caramelly: An aromatic sensation
created by a moderately volatile set of sugar carbonyl
compounds found in coffee's nose that produce
sensations reminiscent of either candy or syrup.
- caramelized: Corresponds to the
taste acquired by roasted beans that have been dipped
in sugar, dextrin syrup, or molasses before roasting.
Also perceived in spray-dried instant coffees.
- carbony: An aromatic sensation
created by a slightly volatile set of heterocyclic
compounds found in coffee's aftertaste that produces
either sensations similar to a creosol-like substance
or a burnt substance.
- caustic: A detrimental coffee
taste sensation characterized by burning, sour
sensation on the posterior sides of the tongue. Caused
by alkaloids increasing the sourness of the acids in
combination with a high percentage of salts.
- chaff (Roasting): Chaff is paper-like
stuff that appears though the roasting process. These
little brown flakes are fragments of the innermost
skin (the silverskin) of the coffee fruit that still
cling to the beans after processing has been
completed. Roasting causes these bits of skin to lift
off the bean.
- chemical: A definite chemical
flavor (such as formaldehyde) not to be confused with
- chicory: A complex bitter-acid
and sweetish taste characteristic of the root of the
- chocolaty: An aromatic sensation
created by a moderately volatile set of pyrazine
compounds found in coffee's aftertaste that produce
sensations reminiscent of unsweetened chocolate of vanilla.
- city or full city
roast: "City" is a roast that
is slightly darker than the American roasting norm.
"Full City" is definitely darker than norm; sometimes
patches of oil on surface.
- clean: Without off-flavor
- common: Coffee of ordinary and
- complexity: Complexity describes
flavor that shifts among pleasurable possibilities; a
harmonious multiplicity of sensation. The Yemen Mocha
definitely should be complex; if the Sumatran is a
good one it should also be complex; the Mexican is
undoubtedly the least complex coffee of the three.
- cooked: A typical taste of an
instant coffee treated at too high a temperature.
- course: A coffee that is rough
on the tongue.
- creamy: Moderately high level
of oily material suspended in the coffee beverage. The
result of pronounced amounts of fats present in the
- creosol: A supplemental coffee
taste sensation characterized by a predominantly
scratching sensation at the back of the tongue. Caused
by the high percentage of phenolic compounds created
by a dark roast.
- dark: Roasting term meaning
dark brown beans with a shiny surface; equivalent to espresso or French roast
process: Coffees are
decaffeinated in their green state. Three principal
processes are used today: the traditional or European
process, the water-only or Swiss-Water Process, and
the CO2/water or Sparkling Water Process. All are consistently successful in removing
all but a trace (2% to 3%) of the resident caffeine.
- decaffeinated taste: Special process taste
often found in decaffeinated coffees. Due to something
lacking or to additional flavors.
- delicate: A secondary coffee
taste sensation characterized by fragile sweet-subtle
sensation just past the tip of the tongue. Caused by
the lowest possible combination of sugars and salts
that still produce a sweet cast to the taste, a
combination easily broken up by other taste
sensations. Typified by a washed New Guinea arabica coffee.
- depth: Depth describes the
resonance or sensual power behind the sensations that
drive the taste of the coffee. It is a tricky and
subjective term, but it tries to get at the way
certain coffees open up and support their sensations
with a sort of ringing, echoing power, whereas others
simply present themselves to the palate and then stand
pat or even fade.
- detrimental coffee
taste sensations: Common to natural
coffees that are harsh due to bitter replacing sweet
in the taste modulation. The result of sugars being
ingested by the shrub as the cherries remain on the
branches while drying. Range from medicinal to
- dirty: Literally a dirty
flavor, not earthy or musty.
- dull: A coffee is dull if it
gives an impression of roundness but at the same time
lacks character. Dull comes close to the meaning of
- earthiness: Earthiness is a flavor
defect deriving from careless, primitive processing
that in some contexts may be seen as virtues. Some
Harrar coffees sold in specialty stores may have a
hint of wildness or earthiness to them. Roasters from
Italy often like to include some earthy-tasting Brazilian coffees in their espresso blends. If a New Orleans blend is at
all authentic it also should have some Brazilian
wildness in it. If the earthy taste dominates to the
point that the coffee tastes distinctly sour or harsh,
this quality becomes a flavor defect; you won't find
such coffees in specialty stores. Your Sumatran sample
may have a hint of earthiness or mustiness to it, but
- earthy: An odor taint in the
coffee beans that produces a dirt-like taste
sensation. Results when fats in the coffee beans
absorb organic materials from the ground in the drying
process during harvesting. Also referred to as dirty
and groundy. The undesirable odor and taste of freshly
turned soil is found in low-graded batches. Due to
poor preparation conditions and botanical origins of
the green coffee. Reminiscent of potato flavor also
found in instant coffees.
- fermented: A taste fault in the
coffee beans producing a highly displeasing sour
sensation on the tongue. The result of enzyme activity in the green coffee beans changing the sugars
to acids in the drying process during harvesting.
- fine cup: Coffee with good,
- finish: If aroma is the
overture of the coffee, then finish is the resonant
silence at the end of the piece. Finish is a term
relatively recently brought over into coffee tasting
from wine connoisseurship; it describes the aftertaste
that lingers on the palate after the coffee is spit
out or swallowed. It is in part a reflection of body;
heavier-bodied coffees like the Sumatran will have a
much longer finish than lighter-bodied coffees like
- flat: An odor taint in the
coffee bean or brew meaning that limited range of
gases and vapors is present in almost imperceptible
strength. Due to aromatic compounds leaving the beans
as part of the staling process after roasting or the
holding process after brewing.
- flavor: Flavor is the most
ambiguous term of all. Acidity has something to do
with flavor, and so do body and aroma. Some coffees
simply have a fuller, richer flavor than others,
whereas other coffees have an acidy tang, for
instance, that tends to dominate everything else. One
can also speak of a distinctively flavored coffee, a
coffee whose flavor characteristics stand out. Of the
three coffees I suggest that you sample, the Yemen
Mocha is probably the most distinctive, the Mexican
the least distinctive, and the Sumatran the richest.
The following are some terms and categories often used
to evaluate flavor. Some are obvious, many overlap,
but all are useful.
- flavor defects: Harshness and sourness
are two of the most widely used negative epithets.
Harshly flavored coffees are unpleasantly bitter,
sharp, or irritating. Terms like grassy, hidey,
barnyard fermented, musty, and Rioy (medicinal)
describe even more dramatically undesirable flavor
characteristics. All of these characteristics derive
from careless processing. Presumably the coffees you
taste will be superior, hence free from such defects.
- foreign: A term that generally
covers a number of imperfect flavors coming from
contamination, for example, rubbery or moldy.
- foul: A rank, strong,
fermented flavor or any other strong, unpleasant
defective flavor, such as hidey or oniony.
- fragrance: The sensation of the
gases released from ground coffee as they are inhaled
through the nose. Ranges from sweetly floral to
- french roast: When applied to
roasting coffee, means that the bean is roasted high
enough to bring the natural oil of the coffee to the
surface. Gives a roasted flavor to the cup.
- fresh: A positive
characteristic applying to freshly harvested and
roasted coffee whose flavor is particularly vivid. An
aromatic highlight in the coffee bean and
brew that is highly pleasing. The result of extremely
volatile organic compounds, particularly those
containing sulfur, evoking a strong sensation on the
- fruity: An aromatic sensation
created by a highly volatile set of aldehydes and
esters found in coffee's aroma. Either a sweet
sensation reminiscent of citrus fruit or a dry
sensation reminiscent of berry fruit.
- full: An intensity
description of bouquet indicating gases and vapors are
present at a moderately pronounced strength.
- good cup quality: Coffee with good,
positive all-round characteristics.
- grady: A background flavor of
dirtiness but not qualifying as dirty. Mostly used in
the United States.
- grassy: A odor taint giving
the coffee beans a distinct herbal character similar
to freshly mown alfalfa combined with the astringency
of green grass. Created by the prominence of nitrogen
compounds in the green beans while the cherries are
maturing. Typical taste of unripe beans and of certain
freshly harvested coffee batches, corresponding to the
beginning of the harvest.
- green: A taste taint giving
the coffee brew an herbal character due to an
incomplete development of the sugar carbon compounds
in the roasting process. Results from insufficient
heat during too short a period. A taste associated
with that of a raw fresh vegetable leaf, often found
in early new-crop coffees.
- hard: A secondary coffee
taste sensation characterized by a predominantly
stinging, sour sensation on the posterior sides of the
tongue. Caused by higher-than-normal percentage of
sour acids and an insufficient percentage of either
sugars or salts. Coffee that strikes the palette by
mixed sensation. Bitterness and astringency are not
are not enveloped by roundness of body. A hard coffee
is poorly balanced. Indicates the quality of the
coffee ranking as a matter of degree from strictly
soft, soft, softish, softish/hardish, hardish, hard,
- harsh: Acrid. Sensation at
the same time bitter and astringent, raspy, and
disagreeable. Particularly found in some poor quality
robusta coffees. Often due to imperfect beans.
- heavy: A moderately high
level of solid material suspended in the coffee
beverage. Result of fine particles of bean fiber and
insoluble proteins present in pronounced amounts.
- heavy roast: Coffee beans roasted
to a very dark brown, with a shiny surface; equivalent
to Italian Roast.
- herby: An aromatic sensation
created by a highly volatile set of aldehydes and
esters found in coffee's aroma. Produces either an
sensation reminiscent of an onion or green vegetable.
- hidey: An odor taint that
gives the coffee beans a tallowy and leather-like
odor. Result of a breakdown of fats in the coffee
beans, due to an excessive amount of heat applied in
the drying process during harvesting, usually when
dried with a mechanical dryer.
- hydrolyzed: Refers to conventional
type of instant coffee having an undesirable acidity
due to treatment. Generally associated with
- insipid: A taste taint giving
the coffee brew a lifeless character, due to a loss of
organic material in the coffee bean. Result of oxygen
and moisture penetrating the bean fiber after
- instant taste: Reflects fewer of the
organoleptic characteristics that typify home-brewed
- intensity: A qualitative measure
of the number and relative strengths of the gases and
vapors present in the bouquet of the coffee.
- italian roast: Term applied to coffee
that has been roasted darker than French Roast. Much
used by Italians, as well as in many of the coffee
- light: A moderately low level
of solid material suspended in the coffee beverage.
Result of fine particles of bean fiber and insoluble
proteins present in perceptible amounts.
- malty: An aromatic sensation
created by a moderately volatile set of aldehydes and
ketones that produces sensations reminiscent of
- medicinal: A detrimental coffee
taste sensation characterized by a penetrating sour
sensation on the posterior sides of the tongue. Caused
by alkaloids increasing the sourness of the acids
without any taste modulation of sweetness.
- medium roast: Coffee beans roasted
to the American norm.
- mellow: A primary coffee taste
sensation created as salts in the coffee combine with
sugars to increase the overall sweetness.
Characteristic found most often in washed arabica
coffees grown at elevations below 4,000 feet, such
Kona coffee from Hawaii. Mellow ranges from mild to
- mild: A secondary coffee
taste sensation characterized by a predominantly sweet
tingle just past the tip of the tongue. Caused by high
concentrations of both sugars and salts. Typified by a
washed Sumatran coffee.
- moldy: Coffee may acquire a
moldy taste if kept in poor conditions. Moldiness also
depends on conditions during the pulping and cleaning
of green beans.
- muddy: Characterizes a large
quantity of particles in suspension in the beverage.
- musty: An odor taint giving
the coffee beans a moldy odor. Result of fats in
coffee beans absorbing organic material from molds on
or in contact with the coffee beans during the drying
process. Often the result of insufficient or proper
drying and aging.
- neutral: A secondary coffee
taste characterized by the absence of a predominant
taste sensation on any part of the tongue but causing
a distinct parching sensation on the sides of the
tongue. Caused by a concentration of salts high enough
to neutralize both acids and sugars but not enough to
provoke a salty sensation. Typified by washed Uganda
- new crop: A taste taint giving
the coffee beans a slight herbal character when
brewed. Result of an incomplete enzymatic change that
ultimately eliminates this taste taint during the
- nippy: A secondary coffee
taste characterized by a predominantly sweet, nipping
sensation at the tip of the tongue. Caused by a
higher-than-normal percentage of acids being sour.
- nose: The sensation of the
vapors released from brewed coffee as they are exhaled
while swallowing. Ranges from caramelly to nutty to
- nutty: An aromatic sensation
created by a moderately volatile set of aldehydes and
ketones that produce sensations reminiscent of roasted
nuts. Characteristic of poor quality beans, that
float, remain lighter in color and have a peanut
- oily: A term sometimes used
to denote a coffee that has a roasted oily taste due
to a high degree of roasting or an oily coffee having
a greasy but not rancid taste.
- old: A roasted coffee that
has been left for too long changes aroma and acquires
a specific and disagreeable flavor. Similar to oldish
but with stronger hay-like flavor.
- oldish: A complete lack of
freshness. Somewhat flat taste with a slight flavor of
- oniony: Has a flavor of
- organic: Organic is an
important descriptive term in the contemporary coffee
world. An organically-grown coffee must be certified
by an international agency as having been grown
without synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or
herbicides. Somewhat lower yields and the considerable
cost of the certification process account for the
higher prices demanded for many organic coffees.
- ordinary: Below average quality
for growth, grade and type. Bland.
- papery: Taste that coffee packed in paper bags or prepared
in bad quality filter paper may acquire. In instant
coffee can be the result of certain processing
- past crop: A taste taint that gives coffee beans a slightly
less acidy taste. Result of enzyme changes in the
coffee beans during the aging process.
- peasy: A disagreeable taste of very fresh green peas.
- piquant: A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized
by a predominantly sweet, prickling sensation at the
tip of the tongue. Caused by a higher-than-normal
percentage of acids actually sweet to the taste
instead of sour. Typified by a Kenya AA coffee.
- point: A coffee with good positive characteristics of
flavor, body and acidity.
- poor: Qualifies a coffee of really common flavor.
- potato: Has an unpleasant taste of raw potato.
- primary coffee taste sensations: Acidy, mellow, winey, bland, sharp and soury.
- process taste: This term reflects a number of defects. Some
technological treatment of coffee can develop
well-identified off-flavors: cooked, caramelized,
cereal, and acrid.
- pulping: First step after picking in preparing coffee by
the wet method. It consists of removing the outer
skin. Machines rub away the pulp without crushing the
- pulpy: Strong, pungent, fruit-like flavor from coffee
- pungent: Applies essentially to a full-bodied and slightly
- pyrolysis: The temperature (around 465F/240C) at which
chemical changes in roasting coffee beans cause them
to emit their own heat, thus raising the temperature
of the roasting chamber.
- quakers: Term applied to unripe, blighted, or
underdeveloped coffee beans.
- quakery: A taste taint giving coffee brew a pronounced
peanutty flavor. Result of the presence of light
colored, underdeveloped, roasted coffee beans. Caused
by picking unripe, green, coffee cherries during
- rancid: A taste fault giving the coffee brew a highly
displeasing taste. The rancid flavor of a roasted
coffee is caused by the oxidation of the fats.
- rich: Intensity description indicating gases and vapors
are present at highly pronounced strengths.
- richness: Richness partly refers to body, partly to flavor;
at times even to acidity. The term describes an
interesting, satisfying fullness. Of the coffees I
suggest you try, the Sumatran should be the richest in
body and the Yemen Mocha should have the richest
acidity. The term rich would probably not be used in
any context with the Mexican coffee.
- rio: With particular reference to Brazils, an
iodine-like flavor that can be very pungent.
- rioy: A taste fault giving the coffee beans a highly
pronounced medicinal character. Result of continued
enzyme activity when coffee beans remain in the fruit
and the fruit dries on the shrub. Usually associated
with natural processed coffees grown in Brazil.
Typified by coffees grown in the Rio district of
- roasty: Relative strength of the natural components of the
coffee flavor is modified by the degree of roasting,
resulting in high character.
- roast taste: Terms describing the
characteristic collective flavor complex of darker
roasts. The acidy notes are gone, replaced by pungent
notes combined with a subtle, caramel sweetness. Some
people call this often unnamed group of sensations
"roast taste" or the "taste of the roast."
- robusta: High in caffeine and rather bitter. Generally less
acid and less aromatic than arabica coffee. Often
- rough: A secondary coffee sensation characterized by a
predominantly rasping, salty sensation on the palette
or tongue. Caused by the additive property of salt
- round: A balanced coffee whose basic organoleptic
characteristics are just at the right level, with none
particularly apparent, giving the impression of
- rounded: An intensity description indicating a reduced
range of gases and vapors is present at a moderately
- rubbery: A taste fault giving the coffee beans a highly
pronounced burnt-rubber character. Result of continued
enzyme activity in the coffee bean when it remains in
the fruit and the fruit is allowed to dry on the
shrub. Usually associated with natural processed
robusta coffees grown in Africa.
- scorched: A odor taint that gives the coffee brew a slight
aftertaste of phenolic and pyridine character with an
underdevelopment of the caramelization of compounds.
Result of applying too much heat and charring the
surface of the bean during the roasting process.
- secondary coffee taste sensations: Piquant to nippy, mild to delicate, tangy to tart,
soft to neutral, rough to astringent, hard to acrid.
- sharp: A primary coffee taste sensation created as acids
in the coffee combine with salts to increase the
overall saltiness. Characteristic found most often in
unwashed robusta coffee. Sharp coffee ranges from
rough to astringent.
- smooth: A moderately low level of oily material suspended
in the coffee beverage. Result of fats in the beans
present in perceptible amounts.
- soft: A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized
by an absence of any predominant taste sensation on
any part of the tongue, except for subtle dryness.
Caused by a concentration of salts high enough to
neutralize the acids but not high enough to neutralize
the sugars. Typified by washed arabica coffee from
- soft-sweet: A pleasant clean taste. Denotes a smooth cup free
of any foreign flavors. applies particularly to
- sour: A basic taste characterized by solutions of
tartaric acid, citric acid, or malic acid. The
unpleasant acidity of a sour coffee cannot be confused
with the natural acidity of some coffees in which this
quality is prized. Perceived at the tip of the tongue.
- spicy: An aromatic sensation created by a slightly
volatile set of hydrocarbon compounds in coffee's
aftertaste that produces sensations reminiscent of
either wood-spice (cinnamon) or wood-seed (Clove).
- stale: A taste fault that gives the coffee brew an
unpleasant taste. Result of moisture and oxygen
penetrating the bean fiber and adversely affecting the
organic material that remains in the coffee bean,
occurring in the staling process after roasting.
- stewed: A taste of coffee infusion that has been heated
after cooling and lost its initial aroma.
- stinker: A coffee with no particular positive
characteristics and without negative characteristics.
- strawy: A taste taint that gives the coffee bean a
distinct hay-like character. Result of the loss of
organic material from the green coffee beans while in
storage, occurring in the aging process after
- strong: Coffee giving a pungent impression in the cup,
rich in flavor. Developed by roasting or having a
- sweaty: A coffee probably fading to faded, that has been
stored for some time in less-than-ideal conditions and
results in a distinct sweaty taste.
- sweet: A basic taste characterized by solutions of sugars
(sucrose and glucose), alcohols, glycols, and some
amino acids. perceived primarily by the tip of the
tongue. A trade term to describe coffee free from
harshness of Rio flavor or any form of damage.
- sweetly floral: An aromatic sensation created by a highly volatile
set of aldehydes and esters that produce sweet
fragrance sensations reminiscent of a flower.
- sweetly spicy: An aromatic sensation created by a highly volatile
set of aldehydes and esters that produce a spicy
fragrance sensations reminiscent of a sweet spice.
- sultana coffee: The dried husks of the coffee cherry.
- supplemental coffee taste sensations: Common to dark roast coffees that are pungent due
to bitter replacing a sweet in the taste modulation
ranging form creosol to alkaline.
- tarry: A taste fault giving the coffee brew an unpleasant
burnt character. Occurs during the holding process
after brewing, a result of condensation and scorching
- tart: A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized
by a predominantly puckering, sour sensation along the
sides of the tongue. Caused by higher-than-normal
percentage of sour acids, almost giving the taste a
- thick: A relatively high level of solid material
suspended in the coffee beverage. A result of fine
particles of bean fiber and insoluble proteins present
in substantial amounts. Most often characteristic of
- thin: A relatively low level of solid material suspended
in the coffee beverage. A result of fine particles of
bean fiber and insoluble proteins present in
imperceptible amounts. Lacks body or substance and is
insufficiently concentrated and roasted.
- tipped: A taste taint giving the coffee brew a cereal-like
taste. Result of heat being applied too quickly in the
roasting process, charring the tip of the bean.
- tipping: Charring the end of the coffee bean during the
roasting process, by applying an intense heat too
- turpeny: An aromatic sensation created by a slightly
volatile set of hydrocarbon compounds and nitrites
found in coffee's aftertaste that produces either
resinous sensations similar to turpentine or medicinal
sensations similar to camphor.
- twisty: A coffee showing differing negative
characteristics in a single cup or from cup to cup. A
coffee with unreliable characteristics.
- unclean: Having off-flavor. Generally depends on the
geographic origin of the beans and how they have been
treated. A flavor slightly similar to fermenting but
without the pungent, rotting taste.
- undefinable flavor: A coffee with an "off" taste that can not be
- vapid: An odor taint in the coffee brew marked by a loss
of organic material that would normally be in a
gaseous state in both the aroma and nose of the brew.
Occurs during the staling process after the roasting
or the holding process after brewing.
- variety: A qualitative description of the gases and vapors
present in the fragrance, aroma, nose and aftertaste
of coffee's bouquet, which create a complex pattern of
sensations of the olfactory membranes.
- watery: A relatively low level of oily material suspended
in the coffee beverage. Result of slightly perceptible
amounts of fats present in the beans.
- wild: A taste fault in the coffee beans characterized by
extreme variation between sample cups. Usually marked
by unpleasant sourness. Result of internal chemical
changes in the green coffee beans or external
- winey: A primary coffee taste sensation created as the
sugars in the coffee combine with the acids to reduce
the overall sourness. Characteristic found most often
in unwashed arabica coffees grown at elevations above
4,000 feet, such as an unwashed Djimmah from Ethiopia.
Winey coffees range from tangy to tart. Special and
agreeable flavor acquired by certain mocha-type,
freshly milled, or first crop coffees.
- woody: A taste fault giving the coffee beans a distinct,
unpleasant wood-like character. Result of an almost
complete loss of organic material in the green beans
during storage. Makes coffee unsuitable for commercial
purposes. Reminiscent of the odor of dry wood.