Sweet Maria's Coffee Glossary

All Terms:
(A-C), (D-L), (M-S), (T-Z)

By Category:
   Brewing    Chemistry    Equipment    Flavor    Roasting    Origin
   Processing    Biology/Cultivars    Trade Terms    Sweet Maria's Terms    Defects


Acerbic
Acerbic refers to an unpleasant sourness in the coffee. It can refer to problems with fermentation, the presence of defect "sours" in the green coffee. It can also be a brewing problem, or more specifically, the bitter sourness of coffee held too long at temperature.
Related Terms:
Defect Flavor Sensory Analysis
Categories:
Flavor Brewing


Acetic Acid
Acetic acid can lead to vinegar-like flavors in over-mature coffees, or bitterness in high quantities. But in moderate amounts it adds a positive winey note to the cup. Acetic acid classifies as an organic acid, and is one that can be detected by smell.
Related Terms:
Citric Acid Phosphoric Acid Malic Acid Vinegar Winey Liveliness Chlorogenic Acid Brightness Ferment
Categories:
Flavor Chemistry


Acidity
Acidity in arabica coffees is almost always considered a positive flavor attribute, yet the term can sound unattractive. People may relate acidity to stomach discomfort, or to sour flavors. This would be incorrect. The acidity in good high-grown arabicas imbues the cup with delicate flavor accents, complexity, and dimension. Good acidity is fleetingly volatile, a momentary sensation, giving effervescence to the cup, and informing the mouthfeel as well. Coffees with no acidity can taste flat. Acidity is not about quantity, it is about quality, and good coffees have a complex balance of many types of acidity: malic, citric, acetic, phosphoric, quinic, to name a few ... and a whole set of chlorogenic acids that are very important to flavor experience as well. Kenyas, which by flavor are some of the higher acid coffees, actually have measurably less than Brazil arabicas (of quinic and citric acids), more of others (malic, phosphoric) and far less than some robusta coffees (chlorgenic acids)! Dark roasts tend to flatten out acidity in flavor. But contrary to the taste, darker roasts have more acidity than lighter roasts. So quantity does not always follow perception. Acidity in coffee might be described by terms like bright, clear, effervescent, snappy, dry, clean, winey, etc. Coffees without acidity tend to taste flat and dull, like flat soda. Acidity is to coffee what dryness is to wine, in a sense. Different coffee origins will possess different kinds of acidity; like the wine-like high notes of some African coffees versus the crisp clear notes of high grown coffees from the Americas. Unpleasant acidy flavors may register as sourness.
Related Terms:
Citric Acid Phosphoric Acid Malic Acid Acetic Acid Chlorogenic Acid Liveliness Brightness
Categories:
Flavor Chemistry


Afternose
Commonly used in reference to wine, afternose compliments aftertaste, but refers to residual olfactory sensations after the coffee has left the palate.
Related Terms:
Aftertaste Sensory Analysis Cupping Fragrance Complex Flavor Aroma
Categories:
Flavor Trade Terms Sweet Maria's Terms


Aftertaste
Aftertaste refers to lingering residual sensations in the mouth after coffee has swallowed. It might be distinguished from "finish" which is the final sensations of the coffee while it leaves the mouth. Also see Afternose.
Related Terms:
Sensory Analysis Flavor Afternose Aroma Fragrance
Categories:
Flavor


Alkaloid
A taste sensation characterized by a dryness and related bittering flavors, sometimes at the posterior of the tongue, usually sensed in the aftertaste. It is not always a wholly a bad thing, in moderate intensities
Related Terms:
Aftertaste Cupping Flavor Sensory Analysis
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Anise
Anise is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to the eastern Mediterranean region and southwest Asia known for its flavor that resembles liquorice, fennel, and tarragon. Anise seed is highly aromatic and has a flavor similar to fennel and licorice, used to flavor various foods and liquors
Related Terms:
Licorice
Categories:
Flavor


Aroma
The aromatics of a coffee greatly influence its flavor profile and come from the perception of the gases released by brewed coffee. Aroma is greatest in the middle roasts and is quickly overtaken by carbony smells in darker roasts. Aroma is distinct from the dry fragrance of the coffee grounds; in general "fragrance" describes things we do not eat (like perfume) and "aroma" pertains to food and beverage we consume. In cupping, wet aroma refers to the smell of wet coffee grinds, after hot water is added. Aromatics as a term may encompass the entire aroma experience of a coffee. Aromatics are a huge part of flavor perception (remember the "hold your nose and eat an onion" experiment). Aromatics reach the olfactory bulb through the nose and "retro-nasally" through the opening in the back of our palate. While some taste is sapid, perceived through the tongue and palate via papillae, or taste buds, most of flavor quality is perceived through the olfactory bulb.
Related Terms:
Cupping Dry Fragrance Wet Aroma
Categories:
Flavor


Ashy
A quality in aroma or flavor similar to that of an ashtray, the odor of smokers' fingers or the smell one gets when cleaning out a fireplace. In the most moderate amount, it may not ruin a cup, but is never used by Sweet Maria's as a positive quality. Ashy flavors can hint at roasting defects, anything from smokey unclean air being recycled through a roasting drum (or a roaster that doesn't vent, like a barbeque drum roaster set-up). Softer, lower-grown coffees will show ashy tastes before high-grown, dense coffees, given the same roast treatment
Related Terms:
Roast Defect Tipping Scorching Smokey Burnt
Categories:
Flavor Roasting Defects


Astringent
Astringency is a harsh flavor sensation, acrid flavor, that provokes a strong reaction. It can have dryness, saltiness, sourness and bitterness as components. It is certainly the opposite of sweetness and cleanness in coffee, always a defect flavor.
Related Terms:
Sensory Analysis Cupping Defect Acrid
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Baggy
Coffees that are held for too long run the risk of this taint. Essentially the coffee comes to absorb the flavors of whatever it is stored in - usually the burlap or jute bag. Many times a darker roast on these coffees will conceal this taint. Baggy flavors are the result of several factors: the fats in the coffee absorbing the smell of burlap, the loss in moisture content as the coffee ages, and other chemical changes. For some origins theses changes in flavor can emerge in 1 year, 9 months, even 6 months for some decafs
Related Terms:
Storage Defect Skunky Past Crop
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Baked
Baked flavor happens in under-roasted coffees haven't developed their character, or coffees that simply sat in the roaster too long without enough heat. It can also happen to scorched coffees where the outside of the bean is browned and the inside is under-roasted. Flavors are typically astringent, grain-like, sour, and body is thin and possibly gritty.
Related Terms:
Under-developed Grainy
Categories:
Flavor Roasting Defects


Balance
Balance is both an obvious and slippery taste term. It implies a harmony and proportion of qualities, and perhaps a mild character since no one quality dominates. Balance can exist between aromatics, flavors, textural sensations, and aftertaste, or between competing flavors. Bittersweet is a term that implies a balance of 2 basic sapid flavors.
Related Terms:
Cultivar Flavor Origin Flavor Cupping Sensory Analysis Mouthfeel Flavor Aroma Round
Categories:
Flavor


Basic Flavors
"In the mouth" sensations derived from the basic flavors: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, savory (umami). These are the core sensations that can be experienced without the input of the olfactory, through the papilla located in taste buds on the tongue.
Related Terms:
Aroma Aftertaste Cupping Flavor Sensory Analysis
Categories:
Flavor


Bergamot
Bergamot orange is used to scent Earl Grey tea, in perfumery and confection baking. It is the size of an orange, with a yellow color similar to a lemon, and has a pleasant fragrance. The juice tastes less sour than lemon, but more bitter than grapefruit. It is only grown commercially in Calabria Italy
Related Terms:
Citrusy Bright Acidity
Categories:
Flavor


Bitter
Sweetness is one of four basic sapid (in the mouth) tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter and Umami (savory flavors). While most would say bitterness is undesirable, coffee has essential bitterness to it. Most undesirable bitterness is formed by roasting defects (flash roasting, or slow baking of the coffee), too-light roast (astringent, trigonelline bitterness) or dark roasting (burned roast taste, no remaining sucrose). Another bitterness is experienced from the rancid oils and residues of dirty brewing equipment. There are many types of bitterness, hence not one avenue to tracking down its source. Bitterness as a positive quality is balanced with residual sweetness, and we use the term bittersweet or bittersweetness to describe this, as in darker chocolate flavors.
Related Terms:
Bittersweet Umami Bitter Salty Sweet Sour
Categories:
Flavor


Bittersweet
Bittersweet is from the language of chocolate, and describes the co-presence of positive bittering compounds balanced by sweetness. It is directly related to caramelization, but has inputs from other roast reactions, as well as bittering flavors such as trigonelline. Bittersweet is usually a roast flavor term, but is always specific to the green coffee too (good bittersweetness would not develop at any roast level in a coffee without the native compounds to engender it). Usually, bittersweetness of a coffee develops as the roast gets darker and eventually overpowers other flavors. It dark roasts, acidity is reduced, while the caramely taste of sugars form the stimulating bittersweetness.
Related Terms:
Roasting Caramelization Pyrolysis
Categories:
Flavor Roasting


Blackberry
Blackberry is found as a fragrance, aroma or flavor in some coffees. I find that it is less obvious at very light roast levels, such as City roast, and is more pronounced at City+ to Full City. It might be found in a wide range of origins, from Rwanda and Kenya, to Guatemala and Colombia. Mora is the blackberry found in Latin America, and is a slightly different plant than what we call blackberry in North America.
Related Terms:
Black Currant Fruity Aroma Fragrance
Categories:
Flavor


Blended Coffee
A blend is a mixture of coffees from multiple origins. Coffees are typically blended to produce a more balanced cup. Here at Sweet Maria's, almost all of the blends you'll see are made with espresso in mind.
Related Terms:
Single Origin Espresso
Categories:
Flavor Processing Brewing Trade Terms


Body
Associated with and sensed by mouthfeel, body is sense of weight and thickness of the brew, caused by the percentage of soluble solids in the cup, including all organic compounds that are extracted from brewing and end up in the cup. Body refers usually to thick or thin, heavy or light, full-bodied or watery. Mouthfeel is used to describe a much broader range of characteristics and textures.
Related Terms:
Cupping Mouthfeel Aroma
Categories:
Flavor


Bold
Historically, Bold is a vague marketing term sometimes used to describe a darker roast. In our coffee reviews, use Bold as the highest level of intensity in our simple scale, and aggressive flavor profile. It does not mean a better cup than mild, delicate coffees.
Related Terms:
Intensity Strong
Categories:
Flavor Sweet Maria's Terms


Break
In coffee cupping, the "breaking of the crust" of floating grounds, part of aromatic evaluation. You add water to the coffee grounds, filling the cup, and wait 4 minutes. At this point there is still a crust of floating coffee grinds. You put your nose right above the cup and "break" this crust by stirring it with the spoon. The grinds sink, and the coffee can be tasted anywhere from 5-15 minutes after the break.
Related Terms:
Crust Cupping Body Aroma Flavor
Categories:
Flavor Trade Terms


Brightness
A euphemistic term to describe acidity in coffee. A bright coffee has more high, acidic notes. Not to be confused with the brighter roast flavors of light roast levels, such as City to City+ roasts. Read more about acidity to understand its use as a flavor term, not in reference to the quantity of acidity in coffee.
Related Terms:
Liveliness Acidity
Categories:
Flavor


Brown Sugar
Brown sugar is a type of sweetness found in coffee ...a sweetness characterized by a hint of molasses, yet quite refined as well. Since Brown sugar of the common type is highly refined (made by recombining molasses with refined white sugar) it makes sense that it's qualities are only mildly rustic. One might distinguish between mild light brown sugar and dark brown types.
Related Terms:
Refined Sugar Turbinado Sweet Honey Muscovado
Categories:
Flavor


Burnt
Burnt flavors in coffee are the result of over-roasting, fast roasting, or roasting in a high-heat environment. This often occurs when the initial roaster temperature when the green coffee is introduced is too high. Usually, scorching and tipping result in burnt flavors. Sometimes, smokey notes in a cup can be a result of native qualities to the coffee, and not necessarily a defect, or the result of an exotic process such as a Monsooned or Aged coffee.
Related Terms:
Tipping Scorching Smokey
Categories:
Flavor Roasting Defects


Buttery
Buttery is primarily a mouthfeel description indicating thickness and creamyness. It indicates a high level of lipids (fats) in the coffee, often. Buttery can also be a flavor description, or a combination of both mouthfeel and flavor
Related Terms:
Creamy Cupping Sensory Analysis Aftertaste Mouthfeel Body
Categories:
Flavor


Cane Sugar
A lightly refined sugar, that has a slight rustic sweetness, but without molasses-like flavors of brown sugar or raw sugar. It refers to a sugar that has not fully refined, yet is bleached white. This is commonly found in sugar-producing countries. Sugar bleached white by this sulfitation process is called "mill white", "plantation white", and "crystal sugar".
Related Terms:
Turbinado Sweet Brown Sugar Muscovado Refined Sugar
Categories:
Flavor


Cappy
A defect term referring to oxidized, unpleasantly sharp cheese flavor, found in coffee that has not been stored correctly, or shipped with cheese.
Related Terms:
Cheesy Yeasty Mildewy Baggy
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Caramel
Caramel is a desirable form of sweetness found in the flavor and aroma of coffee, and is an extension of roast taste. Extremely light or dark coffees will lose potential caramel sweetness. This is a broad term, and can find many forms since it relates to the degree of caramelization of sugars; light or dark caramel, butterscotch, cookie caramel, syrupy forms, caramel popcorn, various types of candy, caramel malt (beer brewing, many types).
Related Terms:
Roasting Caramelization Sweet
Categories:
Flavor


Carbony
A roast-related flavor term, referring to burnt flavors from dark roast levels. For some this is a pleasant flavor if residual sweetness is present, but plain carbon flavor is usually not pleasant.
Related Terms:
Roasting First Crack Second Crack Degree Of Roast Flavor Aroma Creasol Tarry
Categories:
Flavor


Cheesy
A coffee that has a kitchy quality, or literally cheese-like flavors in the cup. The second is actually a trade term, when their is a dairy-like sourness in the cup. We had this once in a Jamaica coffee. Also see Cappy
Related Terms:
Defect Cappy Flavor
Categories:
Flavor


Cherimoya
The fruit is fleshy and soft, sweet, white in color, with a sherbet-like texture, which gives it its secondary name, custard apple. Some characterize the flavor as a blend of banana, pineapple, and strawberry. Others describe it as tasting like commercial bubblegum. It is native to the Andes
Related Terms:
Flavor Cupping Sensory Analysis Aftertaste Aroma Fruited Guayaba Guanabana
Categories:
Flavor


Cherry
Either a flavor in the coffee, or referring to the fruit of the coffee tree, which somewhat resembles a red cherry. Coffee cherry is also called "coffee berry" especially in older English literature.
Related Terms:
Preparation Dry-Milling Beneficio Wet Process Dry Process Coffee Cherry
Categories:
Flavor Trade Terms


Chirimoya
In coffee, a specific multi-faceted tropical fruit flavor found in Chirimoya (Cherimoya). Wikipedia: Some characterize the flavor as a blend of banana, pineapple, papaya, peach, and strawberry. Others describe it as tasting like commercial bubblegum. Similar in size to a grapefruit, it has large, glossy, dark seeds that are easily removed. When ripe, the skin is green and gives slightly to pressure, similar to the avocado.
Related Terms:
Flavor Fruited Guava Acidity
Categories:
Flavor


Chlorogenic Acid
Chlorogenic acids (CGAs) are important to coffee flavor, contributing to flavor when in the proper balance and level. They are a group of phenolic acids esterified to quinic acid, and account for up to 10% of the weight of green coffee. They are known to have antioxidant properties. Like all acids, its levels are reduced in roasting; darker roasts result in less acidity in the cup. Since it reduces to quinic acid in roasting, and quinic acid in high levels results in perceived bitterness and sourness, too much CGA is not desireable. Robusta coffees have roughly 25% more CGA than arabica!
Related Terms:
Phosphoric Acid Malic Acid Acetic Acid Liveliness Brightness Acidity Citric Acid
Categories:
Flavor Chemistry


Chocolate
Chocolate is a broad, general flavor or aroma term reminiscent of chocolate. But what type? There are so many forms of chocolate, either in its pure state, or as part of another confection. Chocolate flavors are often a "roast taste", and are dependent on the degree of roast. Look for more specifics; bittersweet chocolate, bakers chocolate, toffee and chocolate, rustic chocolate, cocoa powder, Dutch cocoa, cocoa nibs, Pralines and chocolate, milk chocolate, Mexican hot chocolate, etc. etc.
Related Terms:
Degree Of Roast Second Crack First Crack Roasting Flavor Aroma
Categories:
Flavor Roasting


Citric Acid
Citric acid is, in moderate amounts, a component of good, bright coffees. It is a positive flavor acid in coffee that often leads to the perception of citrus fruits and adds high notes to the cup. Fine high-grown arabica coffees have more citric acid than robusta types.
Related Terms:
Acetic Acid Chlorogenic Acid Liveliness Brightness Malic Acid Phosphoric Acid Acidity
Categories:
Flavor Chemistry


Citrus
Qualities in coffee that are reminiscent of a citrus fruit; orange, lemon, grapefruit, kumquat, etc. Usually these terms imply a brightness in the coffee, a more acidic, wet-processed type of coffee.
Related Terms:
Citric Acid Fruited
Categories:
Flavor


Classic
Classic is a term I use to describe coffees made in the tradition of a particular growing region, and specific to that area. It is a general characterization of a coffee, implying that it fits an ideal, predetermined taste profile for that particular origin. For wet-processed Central American coffees a balanced cup with clean flavors, light-to-medium body, and good acidity would be "classic" for that area. Traditional cultivars, Typica and Bourbon coffees, often recall classic flavor profiles, well-documented for a growing area.
Related Terms:
Restrained Aroma Flavor Mouthfeel Cultivar Flavor Origin Flavor Cupping Sensory Analysis
Categories:
Flavor


Clean Cup
Clean cup refers to a coffee free of taints and defects. It does not imply sanitary cleanliness, or that coffees that are not clean (which are dirty) are unsanitary. It refers to the flavors, specifically the absence of hard notes, fruity-fermenty flavors, earthy flavors or other off notes.
Related Terms:
Cupping Origin Flavor Cultivar Flavor Mouthfeel Flavor Aroma Sensory Analysis Clear
Categories:
Flavor


Clear
Clarity refers to well-defined characteristics in the cup, aromas or flavors that come into sharp focus and are recognized easily and distinctly. It also implies clarity of the brew, perhaps lighter mouthfeel, and sharper (good acidic) qualities
Related Terms:
Well-knit Balance Structured
Categories:
Flavor


Complex
The co-presence of many aroma and flavor attributes, with multiple layers. A general impression of a coffee, similar to judgments such as "balanced" or "structured"
Related Terms:
Aroma Afternose Aftertaste Cupping Flavor Sensory Analysis Intensity Balance Structured
Categories:
Flavor


Creamy
A mouthfeel description indicating thickness and soft, rounded texture. See also buttery.
Related Terms:
Sensory Analysis Aftertaste Mouthfeel Body Cupping Buttery
Categories:
Flavor


Creosol
A burnt flavor taste caused by phenolic compounds from dark roast levels.
Related Terms:
Roasting First Crack Second Crack Degree Of Roast Flavor Aroma
Categories:
Flavor Roasting


Crisp
Crisp can have several meanings, since it modifies other flavor terms. Crisp acidity might mean bracing, fresh fruit acids. Crisp chocolate notes might refer to tangy bittersweetness. It involves something that occurs briefly, and that provokes reaction, normally positive.
Related Terms:
Structure Clean Clear Balance
Categories:
Flavor


Cultivar Flavor
In-the-cup coffee flavors (and in extension aromatics) that result from the plant material used to produce the coffee. In general, the Coffea Arabica sub-species does not display strong flavor distinctions between cultivars as one might find with wine or other fruits. Any flavors from the cultivar are highly influenced by the growing environment and processing, but in some cases cultivars have distinct taste recognizable to most coffee drinkers, as with Pacamara or Gesha types. Robusta and Liberica have distinct flavors, but these are different sub-species: Coffea Canephora (robusta) and Coffea Liberica.
Related Terms:
Catuai Caturra Typica Bourbon Origin Flavor Varietal Cultivar Catimor Organoleptic
Categories:
Flavor


Defect
In coffee, a defect refers to specific preparation problems with the green coffee, or a flavor problem found in the cupping process. Bad seeds in the green coffee sample are termed defects, and scored against the coffee to determine it's grade. Also, defect flavors are those found in cupping the coffee, and described by a host of unfavorable terms, such as Skunky, Dirty, Cappy, Soapy, Animal-like, Sour, etc. Roast problems can produce defect flavors, as well as poor sorting or preparation of the coffee, mistakes in transportation and storage, problems at the wet mill, bad picking of the fruit or problems going back to the tree itself.
Related Terms:
Scorched Tipped Sour Skunky Baggy Coffee Grading Cupping
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Dirty Cup
Dirty cup is a general term implying some form of taint, usually an earthy defect, but also a mixed defect of ferment, hardness, dirt, moldy flavors etc.
Related Terms:
Defect
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Dry Fragrance
In the cupping procedure for tasting and scoring coffee, this is the smell of the dry, ground coffee before hot water is added. The term fragrance is used since it is normally applied to things we smell but do not consume (perfume, for example), whereas aroma is usually applied to foods and beverages.
Related Terms:
Wet Aroma Cupping
Categories:
Flavor Trade Terms Sweet Maria's Terms


Earthy
Sumatra coffees can have a positive earthy flavor, sometimes described as "wet earth" or "humus" or "forest" flavors. But Earthy is a flavor term with some ambivalence, used positively in some cases, negatively in others. Usually, if we use the term dirty, groundy or swampy, we are implying a negative earth flavor, but earthy itself in Indonesia coffees is a positive assertion. Earthy in a Central America wet-process coffee is NOT a positive term though, since it is out of character, and does not fit the flavor profile
Related Terms:
Dirty Hard Defect Flavor Aroma
Categories:
Flavor


Effervescent
While coffee is not a carbonated beverage, at times a combination of factors (brightness/acidity with a light mouthfeel) can make the coffee dance on the palate. I use the term effervescent to describe this light and lively sensation.
Related Terms:
Mouthfeel Acidity Brightness
Categories:
Flavor Sweet Maria's Terms


Ferment
Ferment is the sour off flavor, often vinegar-like, that results from several possible problems. It might be the result of seriously over-ripe coffee cherry. It can come from coffee cherry that was not pulped the same day it was picked, and/or was exposed to high heat between picking and processing. Often it comes from poor practices at the wet mill, when coffee is left too long in the fermentation tank, or old coffee that is over-fermented is mixed with new coffee.
Related Terms:
Processing Winey Fruity Vinegar Defect Acetic Acid
Categories:
Flavor Trade Terms Defects


Finish
Similar to aftertaste, but it refers to the impression as the coffee leaves the palate. Aftertaste is the sensations gathered after the coffee has left the mouth. We combine these to form the "final flavor impression" of the coffee
Related Terms:
Sensory Analysis Flavor Cupping Aftertaste Afternose Aroma
Categories:
Flavor


Flavor
This is the overall impression in the mouth, including the above ratings as well as tastes that come from the roast. There are 5 "Primary Tastes" groupings (Sour, Sweet ,Salty, Bitter, Savory (Umami) and many "Secondary Tastes," as you can see on the Tasters Flavor Wheel. As the primary category in taste evaluation (what coffee would you want to drink that smelled good and tasted awful?) it is of great importance. But in a sense the flavor impression is divided between this score AND the Finish/ Aftertaste score.
Related Terms:
Origin Character Roast Character Cupping Score Finish Flavor Profile Basic Flavors
Categories:
Flavor


Flavor Profile
Flavor Profile implies a graphical impression of a particular coffee, whether it be an artistic portrait or data graph of the perception of flavor compounds. In the case of our spider graph charts in each of our coffee reviews, this could be considered a flavor profile. It implies the inter-relationship of flavors.
Related Terms:
Cupping Sensory Analysis Roast Profile
Categories:
Flavor


Flavor Wheel
A term that probably refers to the SCAA Flavor Wheel, an analysis tool adapted from the wine industry. Half of it is dedicated to chiefly negative, defective flavors, while the other is mainly positive aspects. The hierarchy of flavor and aroma origins it connotes is highly questionable, but it remains a useful (if limited) tool for assigning language to sensory experience.
Related Terms:
Flavor Cupping Sensory Analysis
Categories:
Flavor Trade Terms


Foresty
A flavor found in rustic Indonesia coffees, wet-hulled types from Sulawesi and Sumatra in particular. It is sometimes called "Forest Floor" flavors and refers to a combined set of sensory experience, like a walk in the forest: earthy, humus, woodsy, mushroomy. reminicient
Related Terms:
Cupping Humus Earthy Rustic Sensory Analysis
Categories:
Flavor


Fruited
In some coffee taster’s lexicon, “fruity” means the coffee is tainted with fruit, and “fruited” means a coffee is graced by positive fruit notes. We don’t exactly see the difference in terms of these two words, but the question of fruit flavors emerging in a coffee context is critical. Is it a good quality? Is it fresh, aromatic, sweet fruit? Is it ripe, or is it over-ripe, fermenty, vinegary fruit? And there’s a side argument as well: did the fruit flavors come from well-prepared coffee, or did it emerge in a process where the coffee had too much contact with the mucilage of the coffee cherry. (This might happen in over-fermenting, in a hybrid process such as Indonesia wet-hulling, or in poorly executed dry-processing).
Related Terms:
Fruity
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Fruity
In some coffee taster’s lexicon, “fruity” means the coffee is tainted with fruit, and “fruited” means a coffee is graced by positive fruit notes. We don’t exactly see the difference in terms of these two words, but the question of fruit flavors emerging in a coffee context is critical. Is it a good quality? Is it fresh, aromatic, sweet fruit? Is it ripe, or is it over-ripe, fermenty, vinegary fruit? And there’s a side argument as well: did the fruit flavors come from well-prepared coffee, or did it emerge in a process where the coffee had too much contact with the mucilage of the coffee cherry. (This might happen in over-fermenting, in a hybrid process such as Indonesia wet-hulling, or in poorly executed dry-processing).
Related Terms:
Fruited Fermented Fermenty
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Grainy
A roast-related flavor, sometimes used negatively, but it can also be a positive flavor attribute. Usually grain flavors indicate a too-light roast, stopped before 1st crack concluded, like under-developed grain flavor. It can also result from baking the coffee, long roasts at low temperatures. Grain sweetness in some coffees is desirable, like malted barley, wheat, toast, brown bread, malt-o-meal, graham cracker, etc.
Related Terms:
Under-roasted First Crack Light Roast
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Grassy
Greenish flavor in the cup, usually indicating early crop, unrested coffee. This is a fresh cut grass flavor, chlorophyll-like, not a dried grass or hay flavor that would indicate old, past crop coffee.
Related Terms:
Greenish Rest Processing Parchment
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Greenish
A smell or flavor of fresh-cut green plants, vegetable leaves or grass, usually indicating fresh new-crop coffees that have not fully rested in parchment. Part of the expertise of cupping lots at origin before export is to see the potential cup quality despite the greenish flavors of young, unrested coffee.
Related Terms:
Sensory Analysis Taint Defect Crop
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Guanabana
A tropical fruit with distinct sweet flavor of strawberry-pineapple as well as a tart citrus accent, found in some coffees (Colombia Huila and Cauca comes to mind)
Related Terms:
Flavor Cupping Sensory Analysis Aftertaste Aroma Fruited Guayaba
Categories:
Flavor


Guava
In coffee, the very aromatic tropical fruit note of Guava. (Guayaba in Spanish)
Related Terms:
Guanabana Fruited Flavor Acidity
Categories:
Flavor


Guayaba
The Spanish term for Guava, a tropical fruit flavor found in some coffees, fruited Colombia types for example. Goiabada is the sweet Guava candy paste, and this is found in some Cauca coffees as well as other origins.
Related Terms:
Flavor Cupping Sensory Analysis Aftertaste Aroma Fruited
Categories:
Flavor


Herbal
A flavor descriptor in coffee reminiscent of herbs, usually meaning aromatic, savory, leafy dried herbs. Usually, more specific descriptions are given, whether is is a floral herb, or sage-like, etc. In reality, there are very different herbal notes, from grassy types, to dried vegetal, to floral, to green. It could hint at rustic qualities, it could indicate an unclean cup flavor, or it could also be a clean and refined cup quality. So it is important to look at the context the term is used within.
Related Terms:
Afternose Aftertaste Cupping Flavor Sensory Analysis Aroma Intensity Tenadam Sage Mint
Categories:
Flavor


Hidey
This descriptor is somewhat reminiscent of the smell of animal hides, similar to leathery. It is not necessarily considered as a negative attribute but is generally used to describe strong notes. Hidey flavors can be found in Yemeni coffees as part of their rustic qualities, but in a clean coffee such as a Ethiopia wet-process, hidey would certainly be a defect flavor.
Related Terms:
Barnyard Animal-like Leathery
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Honey
In coffee, honey-like sweetness is often found, but we use terms such as refined honey (highly filtered and processed) as opposed to raw honey rustic honey sweetness. This form of sweetness is largely a dynamic of roast levels and roast profiles as well. Honey (or its Spanish translation "Miel") can also refer to a pulp natural coffee.
Related Terms:
Sweet Pulp Natural
Categories:
Flavor


Intensity
We have a simple scale to rate intensity, from Mild to Bold. Low intensity does not mean low quality! Delicate, mild coffees can be top notch, whereas some may not like the aggressive, over-the-top character of coffees we rate as Bold.
Related Terms:
Sensory Analysis Flavor Cupping Aftertaste Afternose Aroma
Categories:
Flavor Sweet Maria's Terms


Jasmine
A very positive floral quality in coffee, usually with a strong aromatic component, reminiscent of jasmine flower or tea. There are many forms of jasmine; the common flowering vines, teas, potpourri, etc.
Related Terms:
Floral Aroma
Categories:
Flavor


Leathery
This descriptor is somewhat reminiscent of the leather, and is sometimes distinguished as "fresh leather". It is not necessarily a defect, but does describe a quality that is intense and rustic. Yemeni coffees can have leathery character as a positive attribute, but a wet-process Panama, for example, should not be leathery!
Related Terms:
Hidey
Categories:
Flavor


Liveliness
Another euphemistic term to describe acidity in coffee. A lively coffee has more high, acidic notes. Not to be confused with the brighter roast flavors of light roast levels, such as City ot City+ roasts. Read more about acidity to understand it's use as a flavor term, not in reference to the quantity of acidity in coffee.
Related Terms:
Acidity Brightness
Categories:
Flavor


Malic Acid
Malic acid is yet another of the many acids that adds to favorable perceptions of cup quality; malic acid often adds apple-like flavors. In Kenya coffees, it reaches levels of 6.6 g/kg whereas robusta coffees measure about about one-third to one-half of that level.
Related Terms:
Acidity Brightness Liveliness Chlorogenic Acid Acetic Acid Phosphoric Acid Citric Acid
Categories:
Flavor Chemistry


Mellow
Coffee that has been hanging out in the warehouse, but not really helping out with the work, just relaxing over in the corner, can be described as "mellow coffee". If the coffee gets up and stretches its legs every so often, it is still mellow. But if it starts to complain about being bored, it is no longer mellow.
Related Terms:
After-dinner Roast Smooth Rich
Categories:
Flavor Sweet Maria's Terms


Minerally
A flavor or aroma reminiscent of minerals, which can be a positive characteristic if it is a secondary flavor sensation. Salty coffees can be similar to minerally coffees. This is sometimes found in softer Brazils, but we have found it in high grown lots from Guatemala, Panama and other areas, when the coffee has good quality but is not sweet. There might be a relation between old coffee trees and this flavor as well.
Related Terms:
Salty Flavor Aroma
Categories:
Flavor


Mint
A flavor hint of mint found in coffee, which could indicate a clean and brisk mint hint, or a more rustic dried mint. It might even suggest a medicinal mint note, but this would be clear from the context it is used within. Most often we would use it to indicate a mouth-refreshing, clean, positive quality.
Related Terms:
Herbal Tenedam Sage
Categories:
Flavor


Mouthfeel
A major component in the flavor profile of a coffee, it is a tactile sensation in the mouth used in cupping. quite literally can refer to how a coffee feels in the mouth or its apparent texture. In cupping mouthfeel is scored at light City roast level but mouthfeel can be directly affected in other ways by roast level as well, brew strength, and proper resting of the coffee after roasting. That is, Espresso and Dark Roast coffees have noticeably different mouthfeel than the same coffees at lighter levels. Body is synonymous with mouthfeel, but the latter implies a wider range of possible qualities, whereas body traditionally implies viscosity only. Mouthfeel is perceived by the trigemenal receptors, nerve fibers that surround taste buds.
Related Terms:
Aroma Body Cupping Flavor
Categories:
Flavor Trade Terms Sweet Maria's Terms


Mulling Spice
A spice mix for adding flavor and aroma to a warm beverage, apple cider or wine. This mix might include all or an assortment of the following; allspice, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, star anise and various dried fruit peels. Also see warming spices
Related Terms:
Warming Spice
Categories:
Flavor


Muscovado
Also known as "Barbados sugar" or "moist sugar," it is very dark brown and slightly coarser and stickier than most brown sugars. Unlike most other brown sugars, which are made by adding molasses to refined white sugar, muscovado takes its flavor and color from its source, sugarcane juice. This is a flavor that can be found in the sweetness of dry-processed or pulp natural coffees, mostly.
Related Terms:
Refined Sugar Turbinado Sugar Rustic
Categories:
Flavor


Musty
Musty refers to an aroma and/or flavor that ranges from slight intensity to mildewy defect flavor. Unlike Mildew taint, musty can have a slight (VERY slight) positive connotation when it is extremely mild, and linked to foresty flavors in Indonesia coffees. It can also relate to the hidey, leathery flavors of dry-process Yemeni coffees. In any greater intensity, or in a coffee profile that should be clean, musty is NOT a positive quality.
Related Terms:
Sulawesi Sumatra Yemen Indonesia Foresty Hidey Leathery Mildewy Defect. Rustic
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Nutty
Nutty is a broad flavor term, reminiscent of nuts. It is tied intrinsically to roast taste and the degree of roast, since a coffee that cups nutty at City+ will not be so at FC+. Nutty is usually a positive term but varies greatly as there are so many forms: hazelnut, walnuts, peanut, cashew, almond, etc. Occasionally, nutty can be a negative taste term, especially if it is out of character for a coffee. Some lower grown coffees can have less favorable nut flavors that imply a softness in bean density, and lack of quality. Nut skins is also a flavor tied to a drying, slightly astringent mouthfeel.
Related Terms:
Aroma Flavor Mouthfeel Cultivar Flavor Origin Flavor Cupping Sensory Analysis Chocolate Bittersweet
Categories:
Flavor


Organoleptic
Organoleptic refers to any sensory properties of, in this case, the coffee beverage. It involves flavor, color, odor and mouthfeel. Organoleptic testing involves inspection through visual examination, smelling and tasting. In coffee we call this form of sensory analysis "Cupping".
Related Terms:
Cupping Sensory Analysis
Categories:
Flavor


Origin Flavor
"Origin Flavor" is a term we started to use in distinction to "Roast Taste". Origin flavors (from specific fruit, berry, floral, herbal, confectionary, food-like, etc.) are broader in scope that roast-derived notes. Roast flavors are often described as sweet to bittersweet, caramel to chocolate to burnt, and might be found across coffee growing regions. These are conceptually useful, but we acknowledge they are flawed distinctions since the compounds that form "roast taste" flavors are inextricably linked to the compounds that result in the "origin" flavors. But to describe the way that dark roast tastes eclipse origin distinctness of coffee, it is useful. The term "Origin Distinctness" is a related concept, as well as Cultivar Flavor.
Related Terms:
Pyrolysis Second Crack Caramelization Roast Taste Degree Of Roast First Crack Roasting
Categories:
Flavor Origins


Panela
Found in Colombia (and noted to be best in Pitalito and Pedregal), Panela is tan-colored cakes of sugar that are not fully refined. They can range from caramel-vanilla flavors to floral. From Wikipedia: The sugarcane plant is processed in a large press, to obtain the juice, which is cooked at very high temperatures. The panela can be manufactured in disc-shaped pieces or in cubic pieces of cake form and is usually gold or brown in color. Besides sugar, panela also contains large amounts of proteins, calcium, iron and ascorbic acid. In other countries I have heard it called Panocha and Chancaca. It is sometimes called Piloncillo in Mexico.
Related Terms:
Honey Sweetness Caramel
Categories:
Flavor


Papilla
Papilla (or Papillae in plural) mushroom-like projections on the tongue that contain taste buds. These perceive basic flavors and textures, whereas much of what is sensed as flavor is informed by the aromatics perceived by the olfactory. There are 4 types of papilla on the palate:
  • Circumvallate papillae (contains taste buds)
  • Fungiform papilla (contains taste buds)
  • Filiform papilla (does not contain taste buds)
  • Foliate papillae (contains taste buds)
Related Terms:
Aroma Flavor Mouthfeel Cultivar Flavor Origin Flavor Cupping Sensory Analysis
Categories:
Flavor


Passionfruit
It is native to South America and widely grown in India, New Zealand, the Caribbean, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, California, southern Florida, Hawaii, Australia, East Africa, Israel and South Africa. The passion fruit is round to oval, yellow or dark purple at maturity, with a soft to firm, juicy interior filled with numerous seeds. The fruit can be grown to eat or for its juice, which is often added to other fruit juices to enhance aroma. It is known as Maracuya, or Maracuja in Latin America
Related Terms:
Guayaba Fruited Aroma Aftertaste Sensory Analysis Cupping Flavor Guanabana
Categories:
Flavor


Piney
A slightly resinous pine sap flavor, unusual but attractive in some cases.
Related Terms:
Flavor Cupping Sensory Analysis Aftertaste Aroma
Categories:
Flavor


Piquant
Meaning pleasantly pungent or zesty in taste, spicy, provocative, sapid.
Related Terms:
Zesty Piquant Lively Spicy Tart
Categories:
Flavor


Pomelo
Ancestral grapefruit from Southeast Asia - it has mild grapefruit flavor but low bitterness. In a coffee description , this mean a mild and not-so-aggressive citrus flavor, or citric acidity.
Related Terms:
Citrus Acidity Citric Acidity
Categories:
Flavor


Potato Defect
Research conducted by CIRAD and OCIBU over a six year period in Burundi has shown this off-flavor to be caused by a yet unidentified bacterial agent that enters the cherry skin and produces a pyrazine chemical toxin that binds to the forming green beans. They first thought it was caused by a bacterial transmission via an insect vector, the Antestia bug that pierces the coffee cherry wall and sucks sugars; but later they concluded that anything that pierces the cherry wall can allow the bacteria to enter and eventually release the the nasty pyrazine-based toxin. Because you can't detect it until you roast it, this defect is a real bummer for roasting companies and a real challenge for research. - Culled from Tim Schilling's blog post on the topic, since it is the best description of the defect that is out there...
Related Terms:
Sour Defect Cupping Black Bean
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Prime Attribute
Part of our coffee reviews, we summarize the main (most obvious) sensory experience of a coffee. This is rated right after Intensity
Related Terms:
Sensory Analysis Flavor Cupping Aftertaste Afternose Aroma Intensity
Categories:
Flavor Sweet Maria's Terms


Pulpy
Can refer to flavor or mouthfeel. In terms of flavor, it means the negative flavor of fermenty coffee fruit, indicating there were errors in the coffee processing.
Related Terms:
Taint Sensory Analysis Defect
Categories:
Flavor Sweet Maria's Terms Defects


Pungent
Refers to an aggressive, intense aroma or flavor, often related to spices (pepper) or roast tastes. Pungent foods are often called "spicy", meaning a sharp or biting character, but not unpleasant. Bittersweet tangy roast flavors are something we sometimes call pungent, but otherwise it is strong spice notes.
Related Terms:
Sensory Analysis Flavor Cupping Aftertaste Aroma Intensity
Categories:
Flavor


Refined Sugar
Refined sugar refers to common white sugar. In coffee tasting, it refers to a clear, clean sweetness, with an absence of other characteristics, as might be found in Muscavado, Turbinado or Brown sugars.
Related Terms:
Cane Sugar Sweetness Brown Sugar Turbinado Muscovado
Categories:
Flavor


Restrained
A descriptive term I use to communicate a well-structured, classic, clean flavor profile from a wet-processed coffee. This would be in opposition to coffees with exotic character, flamboyant and "loud", a fruity dry process coffee, a gesha coffee, etc. But restrained coffees are great "daily drinkers", and more approachable as well.
Related Terms:
Classic Balanced
Categories:
Flavor Sweet Maria's Terms


Roast Taste
"Roast Taste" is a term we started to distinguish it from "Origin Flavor". We use the "roast taste" term define the set of flavors that result from the degree-of-roast, how light or dark a coffee is roasted. These are flavors related to caramelization, the browning of sugars, or other roast reactions. The wide range of flavors from sweet to bittersweet, from caramel to chocolate to carbony burnt tones, are the ones most often assigned to the set of "roast tastes". These are conceptually useful, but flawed distinctions since the compounds that form "roast taste" flavors are inextricably linked to the compounds that result in the "origin" flavors. But to describe the way that dark roast tastes eclipse origin distinctness of coffee, it is useful.
Related Terms:
Maillard Reaction Pyrolysis Origin Flavor Second Crack First Crack Roasting Caramelization
Categories:
Flavor Roasting


Round
Usually referring to mouthfeel, a sense of completeness and fullness
Related Terms:
Body Mouthfeel Aftertaste
Categories:
Flavor


Rustic
What is Rustic? This is a general term we came up with: A general characterization of pleasanty "natural" flavors, less spohisticated and less refined, but appealing. Dried Apricots from Sunmaid at the supermarket, vs. unsulphered dried apricots from the bin at the Health Food Coop. White sugar vs. Muscovado natural dry brown sugar. Buckwheat pancakes vs Bisquick. Bacon from the supermarket vs bacon from the farm. None of those are what I am talking about with the Robusta, but rustic is a lower process level in general, and might involve more earthy, woody, foresty, mushroom, mossy hints like a Sumatra, or might be more fruity, pulpy, winey, ripe fruit, light ferment, balsamic vinegar etc etc in a fruited natural coffee. Sometimes I refer to lemonade from a mix and homemade honey lemonade, hand-pulped, etc. So it's a very general and broad comparison. It could be made along many flavor lines, such as fruity, or sweet, or herbal (which tends to be weighted toward rustic), or even floral. Very clean coffees, traditional wet process types, would rarely have rustic flavors. Natural dry-process coffees would almost always have rustic flavors. Hybrid processes such as pulp natural (miel or honey coffees) range between wet- and dry-process. Mechanical demucilage coffees can be very clean, very rustic, or anything inbetween depending on process conditions.
Related Terms:
Sensory Analysis Flavor Cupping Aftertaste Afternose Aroma Intensity
Categories:
Flavor Sweet Maria's Terms


Sage
A flavor hint of sage found in coffee, either leafy sage, dried sage, or sage flower. This could indicate a more rustic cup quality, or even defect flavor in dried sage, or a very clean floral aspect.
Related Terms:
Herbal Tenedam Mint
Categories:
Flavor


Salty
Salty is one of four basic sapid (in the mouth) tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter (and possibly a 5th called Umami which indicates savory flavors). In coffee, saltiness is not usually a positive quality, but more moderate amounts related to minerally flavors can be positive. We have found some Brazil coffees to have salty and mineral-like character.
Related Terms:
Sour Sweet Salty Bitter Umami Minerally
Categories:
Flavor


Sapid Flavors
Pleasant tastes, referring to "in the mouth" sensations derived from the basic flavors: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, savory (umami). In a broader sense, sapid means "pleasing to the mind", referring to the intersection between pleasant sensory input and mental enjoyment.
Related Terms:
Cupping Aroma Flavor Mouthfeel Sensory Analysis
Categories:
Flavor


Sensory Analysis
Sensory Analysis is a broader term for all qualitative evaluation of food and beverage. In coffee, it is a better term for what we call "cupping"
Related Terms:
Cupping Cupper
Categories:
Flavor


Silky
A mouthfeel description indicating a delicate, light, elegant softness and smoothness. Usually refers to a lighter body than terms such as velvety, or creamy.
Related Terms:
Body Mouthfeel Aftertaste Sensory Analysis Cupping Buttery Velvety
Categories:
Flavor


Smokey
This smell and flavor is similar to fireplace effluence, campfire, or burnt food. Dark-roasted or oven-roasted coffees can have smokey flavors, or roasters where the air is recycled in the roast drum (or does not vent at all). Sometimes green coffee can have a smokey hint, and this might be found in the roasted coffee too, suggesting bad mechanical drying at the coffee mill. Smokey hints might be a positive quality in certain exotic coffees (Monsooned India, Aged Java and Aged Sumatra come to mind) or in rustic Yemeni coffees.
Related Terms:
Burnt Scorching Tipping Aged Coffee Defect
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Sour
Sour is one of four basic sapid (in the mouth) tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter (and possibly a 5th called Umami which indicates savory flavors). In coffee, sourness in moderate amounts os favorable, although the term has negative connotations. Sourness can result from too-light roasts, which have a corresponding bitterness. It can also be the result of acidity, which is usually a favorable characteristic.
Related Terms:
Acidity Brightness Liveliness Chlorogenic Acid Acetic Acid Phosphoric Acid Citric Acid
Categories:
Flavor


Sparkles
Sparkles is a key coffee quality term, and refers to brightness in the cup. Bright things often shine, both visually and in a gustatory sense, and that is expressed among tradespeople as sparkley, sparkles, or "this coffee is well-sparkled." It is not related to crystals, as in the proprietary "flavor crystals".
Related Terms:
Bright Acidity Effervescent
Categories:
Flavor Chemistry Sweet Maria's Terms


Spongy
A reference to the mouthfeel of a coffee when it leaves a tactile impression of sponges. This is often found in Liberica coffees, and can be unpleasant if excessive.
Related Terms:
Strecker Degradation Body Mouthfeel Umami
Categories:
Flavor Sweet Maria's Terms


Structured
Like Balance, structure is an esoteric term. After all, you can't taste a "structure" nor can you taste a "balance." They come from a sense of all the sensory components of a coffee, characterizing the relation between flavors, acids, mouthfeel and aftertaste as well-defined and comprehensive. Well-structured coffee has an architectural feel, as something that is "built", well-founded, solid, with flavors and sapid experiences that relate well to each other. Usually it refers directly to the acidity, or perhaps we might say the acidity is a core component of structure, since a coffee with weak acidity tastes limp and flat.
Related Terms:
Well-knit Balance
Categories:
Flavor


Sucrose
Sucrose is largely destroyed by the roasting process through various reactions and thermal caramelization. It is destroyed at this rate: 2.9% remains in a light roast; 0.9% in a medium roast, 0% in a dark roast. Sucrose is sweeter before caramelization, but perhaps more aromatic after caramelization. Still, if there is no sweet taste, the perception of caramelized sucrose will not be sweet. "Sucrose is the principle sugar in coffee. The melting point of pure crystalline sucrose is in the 320-392 degrees F with 370 degrees F most commonly accepted. Degradation of dry sucrose can occur as low as 194 degrees F. and begins with the cleavage of the glycosidic bond followed by condensation and the formation of water. Between 338 and 392 degrees F, caramelization begins. It is at this point that water and carbon dioxide fracture and out-gassing begins causing the first mechanical crack. These are the chemical reactions, occurring at approximately 356 degrees F, that are exothermic. Once carmelization begins, it is very important that the coffee mass does not exotherm (lose heat) or the coffee will taste "baked" in the cup. A possible explanation is that exothermy of the charge mass interrupts long chain polymerization and allows cross linking to other constituents. Both the actual melting point of sucrose and the subsequent transformation, or caramelization, reaction are effected by the presence of water, ammonia, and proteinatious substances. Dark roasts represent a higher degree of sugar caramelization than light roasts. The degree of caramelization is an excellent and high resolution method for classifying roasts."
Related Terms:
Sweetness Trigonelline Roast
Categories:
Flavor Chemistry


Sweaty
Usually a taste defect, reminiscent of the smell of flavor of sweat, sometimes considered mildly positive. It can be the result of bad storage conditions for green coffee, but we have also experienced it from roast profiles where the seed is overroasted on the interior due to too much conduction in the thermal transfer. It is an unsweet taste. Some Kenyas can be mildly sweaty, i.e. akin to minerally, not with a stench of foul sweat. It can be found in Yemeni coffees as well, along with leather and hide notes, and has some relation to musty flavors in Indonesia coffees.
Related Terms:
Musty Leathery Hidey Defect
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Sweet
Sweetness is one of four basic sapid (in the mouth) tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter (and possibly a 5th called Umami which indicates savory flavors). In coffee, sweetness is a highly desirable quality, and the green bean has many sugars and polysaccharides. However, the main sugar, sucrose, is largely destroyed by roasting, with only 2.9% remaining at a light roast, and 0% at a darker roast. When caramelized sugars have aromatic sweetness, but not sapid sweetness on the palate. Hence, over-roasting is to be avoided to preserve some sweetness.
Related Terms:
Sour Sweet Salty Bitter Umami
Categories:
Flavor


Tangy
An adjective modifying a flavor descriptor, decribing a sharp effect; tangy citrus, tangy bittersweet flavor, tangy green apple.
Related Terms:
Zesty Piquant Lively Spicy
Categories:
Flavor


Tannic
The term Tannins refers to the use of wood tannins from oak in tanning animal hides into leather. Having the bitterness or astringency of Tannins. Tannins are plant polyphenols found across the flora kingdom.
Related Terms:
Bitter Acetic Acid Malic Acid Phosphoric Acid Citric Acid Robusta Arabica
Categories:
Flavor Chemistry


Tarry
A dark roast-related flavor of pungent, intense bittering roast flavor, reminicent of the smell of tar.
Related Terms:
Roasting Second Crack Degree Of Roast Flavor Aroma Creasol Tarry Carbony
Categories:
Flavor


Tea-like
A term used to describe coffees with light, astringent body and potent aromatics. A flavor associate with Indian Specialty coffee more than not as well as some Rwandan flavor profiles.
Related Terms:
Astringent
Categories:
Flavor


Tenadam
The name in Amharic for Rue, used as an herbal additive to coffee. You can find the flavor of tenadam in some Ethiopia coffees (without actually adding it to the cup!) Rue is Ruta chalepensis and has properties as a medicinal herb as well, for common cold, stomach ache, diarrhea, and influenza. In Oromo it is called Talatam
Related Terms:
Herbal Sage Mint
Categories:
Flavor


Transparency
Transparency is a flavor characterization synonymous with clarity, or a business ethics term, implying that as much information as possible about a coffee is made available to the consumer.
Related Terms:
Direct Trade Fair Trade Farm Gate
Categories:
Flavor Trade Terms Sweet Maria's Terms


Turbinado
Turbinado sugar, also known as turbinated sugar, is made from sugar cane extract. It is produced by crushing freshly cut sugar cane; the juice obtained is evaporated by heat, then crystallized. The crystals are spun in a centrifuge, or turbine (thus the name), to remove excess moisture, resulting in the characteristic large, light brown crystals. It is a mildly rustic sweetness, as found in coffee, but not quite as much so as Muscovado sugar
Related Terms:
Muscovado Sugar Refined Sugar
Categories:
Flavor


Umami
Umami is a Japanese word meaning savory, a "deliciousness" factor deriving specifically from detection of the natural amino acid, glutamic acid, or glutamates common in meats, cheese, broth, stock, and other protein-heavy foods. The action of umami receptors explains why foods treated with monosodium glutamate (MSG) often taste "heartier". In coffee, savory relates to specific brothy, food-like character and can conflict with other basic flavors such as sweet, but is not undesirable. It can be found in Indonesia coffees, but has appeared favorably in Colombias we have stocked as well.
Related Terms:
Sweet Salty Bitter Sour
Categories:
Flavor


Velvety
A mouthfeel description indicating elegant softness, refined smoothness. See Silky as well.
Related Terms:
Body Mouthfeel Aftertaste Sensory Analysis Cupping Buttery Silky
Categories:
Flavor


Vinegar
Vinegar-like qualities are a defective flavor taint in coffee, resulting perhaps from poor processing, fermentation, sanitation. Usually, this comes from high levels of acetic acid, and come with a sour edge. Lower levels can lead to positive winey notes. Over-ripe coffee cherries, or delays in getting picked cherry to the mill can be the cause as well.
Related Terms:
Acetic Acid Fermenty Fermented Defect Sour Winey
Categories:
Flavor Trade Terms Defects


Warming Spice
A term indicating a spice blend with ingredients such as ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, anise pepper. While it is not exactly the same thing, warming spice blends are often similar to mulling spice mixes used for hot apple ciders and such. Indian foods are also big on warming qualities of spice blends... This is basically a similar set used to spice hot beverages, referred to as mulling spices.
Related Terms:
Zesty Tangy Spicy Mulling Spice
Categories:
Flavor


Well-knit
"Well-knit" is yet another esoteric term, being something that you cannot directly smell or taste. It describes the good inter-relation of independent sensory characteristics, distinct yet welded together in a positive way. It is also referred to as "tightly knit" to mean closely-paired flavors.
Related Terms:
Structure Balance Clarity
Categories:
Flavor


Wet Aroma
In cupping, wet aroma refers to the smell of wet coffee grinds, after hot water is added. The aromatics of a coffee greatly influence it's flavor profile, and comes from the perception of the gases released by brewed coffee. Aroma is greatest in the middle roasts and is quickly overtaken by carbony smells in darker roasts. Aroma is distinct from the dry fragrance from the coffee grounds; in general fragrance describes things we do not eat (like perfume) and aroma pertains to food and beverage we consume. Aromatics as a term may encompass the entire aroma experience of a coffee. Aromatics are a huge part of flavor perception (remember the 'hold your nose and eat an onion experiment). Aromatics reach the olfactory bulb through the nose and "retro-nasaly" through the opening in the back of our palate. While some taste is sapid, perceived through the tongue and palate via papillae, or taste buds, most of flavor quality is perceived through the olfactory bulb.
Related Terms:
Sensory Analysis Cupping Dry Fragrance Aroma Aromatics
Categories:
Flavor Trade Terms Sweet Maria's Terms


Wild
Wild flavors in coffee is a general characterization that connotes something foreign or exotic in a flavor profile, usually somewhat unclean. This can be found in some East African coffees, although it is usually the result of poor processing or handling. For example Yemeni coffees have wild notes of hide, leather, earth, and such. To some these are defect flavors.
Related Terms:
Sensory Analysis Cupping Humus Earthy Rustic
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Winey
Describes a wine-like flavor with a similar perceived acidity and fruit. Found most commonly in East African specialty coffees as well as in some centrals like Costa Rica. I will use it to describe ripe fruit notes, pleasantly so, but not pushed to the point of vinegar sourness (which would be over-ripe, fermenty flavor... not good).
Related Terms:
Fruity Ferment Acidity
Categories:
Flavor


Woody
Generally a taste defect from age; old green coffee, perhaps yellowing in color. This is due to the drying out of the coffee over time, and as the moisture leaves the seed it takes organic compounds with it. Also, when coffee rehydrates itself, it brings in foreign odors, baggy and dirty tastes and smells. Aged coffees can have a positive hickory-like taste and aroma. This entry does not address positive wood qualities like cedar, and such. Also not to be confused with foresty or woodsy character in Indonesia coffees.
Related Terms:
Baggy Past Crop Dirty Aged Coffee Foresty
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Yeasty
A defect term referring to "honey" flavor but a bad rustic, yeast-like flavor. This is on the opposite end of the spectrum away from pure honey-like tastes
Related Terms:
Cappy Defect
Categories:
Flavor


Zacapa
Zacapa is the famous sweet and spicey rum of Guatemala. Sometimes this vanilla-laced rum note appears in coffee flavors.
Related Terms:
Sweet Panela Caramelization
Categories:
Flavor


Zesty
A flavor or mouthfeel characteristic, hinting at a tingly, prickly, lively or piquant aspect. Peppers, spice or citrus can all be zesty.
Related Terms:
Tangy Citrusy Piquant
Categories:
Flavor