Bitterness is a primary flavor sensation, perhaps a twinge or aftertaste, primarily detected/perceived on the soft-palate toward the back of the mouth, and characterized by a solution of quinine and caffeine as well as other alkaloids.
Bitterness - One of the Four Basic Tastes Known to Humans
Bitterness is one of the five basic tastes - sour, sweet, salty, bitter and umami - detected at the back of the mouth.
- Bitterness is desirable in a coffee to some degree, particularly in a dark roast or espresso
- In darker roasts, the quality of bitterness adds to the fullness of the coffee
- In general, Robusta (Coffea canephora var. robusta) coffee beans are more bitter than Arabica Coffee beans
The Desirability of Bitterness in Premium Gourmet Coffee
Though bitterness is desirable up to a certain level, too much bitterness creates an unpleasant taste, especially if it is caused by over-extraction during the brewing process or from using too fine of a grind, or making too small of an amount of coffee.
Bitterness vs. Acidity and the Six Basic Flavor Characteristics of Coffee
You can also explore the world's top gourmet coffee and learn about coffee's past in the World's Best History of Coffee.
Coffee tasting terms and more coffee and espresso information can also be found in the Espresso Coffee Guide's Coffee and Espresso Glossary.