Describing Flavor

By August 20, 2019 Food For Thought

At Kaladi, we like to describe the flavor of coffee by its three basic sensations: strength, taste, and aroma. Each coffee has its own individual character, we seek out those coffees that display the best of these characteristics.There is no such thing as any one best coffee since each of us have an ideal coffee flavor that suits us. Having an idea of what kind of characteristics a coffee has may help you find your best coffee.

Strength: the strength of a coffee is defined by its body. Body is the viscosity of the coffee in the mouth. Coffee may be full bodied, medium bodied or light 


bodied. Sometimes a coffee may be in between and we will describe it as light to medium bodied or medium to full bodied. The strength of a coffee is often the lingering image of a coffee’s character.

Taste: Taste is the sensation that your tongue perceives.Your tongue tastes four basic flavor characteristics: sweet, salty, sour, or bitter.We tend to stay away from bitter tastes in coffee although bitterness finds its way into many peoples cups. 

Sweet coffees are those that stimulate the tip of your tongue and may be nippy or piquant. A very desirable characteristic, sweetness is a pleasant brightness found in coffee. When a coffee stimulates the salty taste buds we usually describe these coffees as either soft or neutral. Soft coffees are very subtle and easy to drink. Neutral coffees are often used in coffee blends since they are easy to manipulate. Neutral coffees by themselves, like soft coffees, are easy on the palate. Many people who have had bad experiences with bitter coffee tend to gravitate to these tastes.

Coffees that stimulate the sour taste buds are described as winey. Wineyness in coffee refers to the wine-like mouthfeel. Some coffees have a bold, cabernet-like wineyness; others may have a dry, chardonnay-like character. Winey coffees tend to be difficult to blend.

Aroma: Aroma is the most diverse element in coffee. Of the1,000 or so chemical compounds that make up the flavor of coffee 800 of those are aromatic compounds.This is three times the number of aromatic compounds as found in wine Aroma is what gives us the shades of coffee’s flavor. Aroma is what gives us the shades of coffee’s flavor. Aroma varies in intensity with different coffees but is equally fleeting: 85% will dissipate from the beans in just five days from roasting unless that coffee is kept frozen.

Aroma is what gives each coffee its unique signature.These compounds are a complex relationship between the chemical make-up of the coffee bean and a roaster’s artistry of recognizing a coffee’s potential and roasting to the exact degree that unlocks that signature. Identifying aromas in coffee is a subtle art in tasting but once one becomes aware of these nuances they are an enjoyable experience that will greatly add to one’s appreciation of coffee quality.