What is Coffee “Flavor”?

What is a Well-Balanced Coffee Flavor?

A coffee’s flavor describes the overall and combined sensations/perceptions of the coffee’s distinctive aromatic and taste characteristics, the fusion of body, acidity, aroma, bitterness, sweetness, and aftertaste. A well-balanced coffee is one in which no single flavor characteristic dominates and/or overpowers/overwhelms the others.

Discerning the Finer Qualities of Coffee

The water-soluble taste and aromatic compounds of coffee are perceived primarily through smell (the olfactory membranes) and taste buds (nerve endings on the tongue).

Coffee cuppers (professional coffee tasters) often distinguish the coffee’s taste (flavor) from its acidity, aroma, and body, or describe the flavor as the quality that remains after those qualities are considered. More commonly the flavor is  inclusive of these qualities.

Coffee Taste Descriptions

Some general coffee flavor descriptions include complex (multi-flavored) and rich (describes a full-bodied coffee). Some coffees have a flavor reminiscent of red wine and are referred to as winy. Other coffees have a fruity essence that suggests berries or citrus.

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