A Beginner's Guide To Coffee Tasting

A Beginner's Guide To Coffee Tasting

Fruity with a hint of blackberry. Nutty with dark chocolate undertones. Sour with a whiskey like flavor. It’s floral with a strong overtone of rose and jasmine. You’ll hear these descriptions in most wineries during an afternoon of wine tasting but you might be surprised to learn that these are actually descriptions of coffee flavors. The magic of coffee isn’t just in the rush of caffeine or the warmth of a cup of brew in the morning, it’s the countless flavors which make tasting coffees a joy.

The next time you walk into your favorite coffee shop, bring a copy of the amazing Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel. Produced by the Specialty Coffee Association of America, this beautiful one page guide will walk you and your friends through the many potential flavor profiles of coffee to help you find that perfect cup for you!

Approach your coffee like you would any fine wine, focusing on both the scent and the taste. What scents hit your nose when you grind the beans? Do any new aromas emerge when you smell that a freshly brewed cup? Swirl that first sip of coffee in your mouth to determine what flavors emerge.

All coffees fall into one of nine basic flavors:

  • Sweet
  • Floral
  • Roasted
  • Spices
  • Nutty/Cocoa
  • Fruity
  • Sour/Fermented
  • Green/ Vegetative
  • Other (i.e. rubbery, skunks).

The real fun of coffee tasting emerges as you try to describe the second and third layer of flavors. Sweet coffees usually have sugary characteristics, such as molasses, maple syrup, caramel or honey. But you’ll also find some vanilla and other sweet aromatics. Spicy coffees are usually brown spices such as anise, nutmeg, cinnamon or close. But you’ll also find some coffee that has a pungent or peppery flavor profile.

Fruity coffees can have many different fruit flavor profiles. Berry flavors are common including hints of blackberry, raspberry, blueberry or strawberry. You can also find some coffees with hints of coconut, cherry, apple, peach, pear or even pineapple. In contrast, some customers prefer darker, roasted characteristics of tobacco, cereal, or even burnt flavors that can be described as smoky, ashy or acrid. Coffee’s with a green floral scent are often under ripe and sometimes bitter. Good ones, however, can taste very fresh, herby, haylike or perhaps even peapods.

Of course, we’ve all experienced coffee so poorly prepared that it tastes like rubber, salty, bitter, skunky or perhaps even like gasoline. I’ve thrown away more than a few cups of coffee purchased at my nearest national coffee chain because they were burnt and skunk.

If you work in the coffee industry or simply love the brew, you might want to follow the work of the Specialty Coffee Association. From coffee farmers to baristas and roasters, their members span the globe. The SCA works to make coffee better by raising standards worldwide through a collaborative and progressive approach. Dedicated to building an industry that is fair, sustainable, and nurturing for all, SCA draws on years of insights and inspiration from the specialty coffee community. They also host several industry and consumer coffee events throughout the world! Learn more here!

Prelief Can Help You Enjoy Coffee Again

If you would love to try these different types of coffee, but it causes discomfort, it’s most likely due to the acid in the coffee. By using Prelief caplets, which work on the food not on the body, it can help reduce up to 95% of the acid from a 6oz cup of coffee. By reducing the acid in your coffee you may bring back a cherished tradition. Prelief is available at Walgreens and Online.

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