Tasting Terminology

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Here’s an intriguing question: Did anyone actually teach you to appreciate a cup of coffee?


At first, this concept may seem absurd. But a good coffee is on par with a fine wine, and there are four criteria that determine whether your daily brew makes the cut.

Aroma. Scent is a very important flavor component. Much of our sense of taste is created through the nose and its olfactory glands, which add the thousands of subtleties you taste in your organic food and drink each day.

Acidity. This term refers to the lively, palate-cleansing characteristic of all coffees grown at high elevation. Acidity is experienced primarily on the sides of the tongue. It’s not the same as bitterness; rather, it’s a sensation reminiscent of freshly squeezed juice.

Body. The tactile impression of brewed coffee in your mouth can be described as light, medium or full. Some coffees naturally have more body than others. The brewing method also affects the perception of body. Coffees made in a coffee press or an espresso machine seem fuller in body than those brewed by other methods.

Flavor. This is the most important tasting term, and it describes your total impression of aroma, acidity and body. It can be used generally (“This coffee is flavorful”) or with specific attributes in mind (“This coffee has a chocolaty flavor”).

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Photo courtesy of Starbucks Coffee Co.

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