Coffee is a fascinating topic full of rewarding experiences. Learning to appreciate coffee is like embarking on a journey that takes you from the distant past to the present, encompassing many cultures and different disciplines, including chemistry and history.
Today we’d like to share with you four essential terms to get you started on this exciting adventure. These coordinates will allow you to get your bearings so you can navigate the world of coffee with more confidence.
This is the flavor profile of each coffee or the range of gustatory sensations each coffee generates in your mouth. As you may have noticed, the flavor of a coffee is a complex, rich experience. This richness is caused by the acids that coffee contains naturally.
There are two types of acids in coffee: organic and chlorogenic. Organic acids include citric, malic, and quinic acids, among others. These acid add notes of fruitiness to your coffee. Chlorogenic acids, on the other hand, get broken down during the roasting process into quinic and caffeic acids. The flavor of quinic acids isn’t exactly pleasant, that’s why the darker the roast, the more bitter the coffee is. Conversely, light roasts produce coffees with fruity notes.
Coffee grown at higher altitudes, like Brazilian coffee, tends to be more acidic, while coffee grown at lower elevations usually has lower acidity values.
The aftertaste of a coffee is the flavor that remains in the mouth after the coffee is swallowed. Many vivid terms are used to describe the aftertaste of coffee. Some common adjectives are chocolaty, spicy, carbony, crispy, and tingly. To fully experience the aftertaste of a coffee, take note of the following:
- What flavor dominates
- Does the aftertaste change?
- Does the aftertaste linger? If so, how long?
Who doesn’t love the aroma of coffee? Appreciating this enticing smell requires little in the way of expertise. But as is often the case with coffee, behind this apparently simple pleasure there is more than meets the eye—or the nose.
Our sense of smell plays a crucial role in how we taste. In fact, aroma is responsible for most of the flavor attributes of coffee, except for body and the taste sensations perceived by the tongue. We perceive the aroma of the coffee we drink in two ways: nasally (that is, through the nose) when we smell it, and retronasally when the coffee is in our mouths or after it’s swallowed and volatile compounds reach the nasal passage.
While some people may think that all coffees have similar aromas, each one has distinct characteristics. Our Colombian coffee from Medellín is well-known for its heady aroma, while our Ethiopian coffee from Sidamo is rich in fruit aromas.
In short, a coffee’s body is its texture. This term refers to the sensation you experience as the coffee settles on your tongue. You can also think of it as the viscosity you perceive when you taste your coffee. The origin of the grains, the roast levels, and the brewing method are some of the factors that determine the body of a coffee, with the brewing method being the most important.
There are three basic categories to describe the body of a coffee: light, medium, and full-bodied. A light coffee has a thinner consistency, while a full-bodied coffee has a thicker mouthfeel. For example, our Tarrazu coffee, from Costa Rica, is full-bodied. On the other end of the spectrum, our Nicaraguan Jinotega coffee has a medium-to-light body.
At EcoDelight, we have made it our mission to provide our clients with coffee of the highest quality. With the accumulated experience of five generations of coffee producers behind us, we offer a wide collection of single-origin coffee and a rich set of coffee blends.
We are located in San Jose, California. Contact us today to place a custom order, become a distributor, or learn more about our passion for all things coffee.