Much like wine, coffee comes in a wide variety of flavors. The finished product is greatly affected by plant varietal, processing, roasting, and finally, brewing. Use these tasting tips as a simple way to activate your senses and prompt your brain to smell and taste the different flavors in each cup.
What do you smell? Look for a subtle bouquet of herbs, fruits, flowers, and other smells. Aroma can help you identify freshness and overall quality, and is a sneaky way to identify any defects or off-tastes in the bean.
Not to be confused with sourness, which can be a coffee defect, acidity is the brightness that gives coffee life! Look for sweet tartness and delicate crispness in many great coffees. In general, a dark roasted coffee will be less acidic.
Body, or mouthfeel, can be thought of as the weight of the coffee (to simplify, think skim milk vs. 2% vs. whole milk). Is the mouthfeel of your coffee light and silky, heavy and rich, or thin and lifeless?
Flavor attempts to identify specific tastes. Floral, fruit, tobacco, wine, nutty, cocoa, spice, and smoky are just a few of the many ways to describe coffee. What can you identify?
What lingers after the coffee is consumed? Great coffees remain on the tongue even after the coffee has been consumed. Look for sweetness and pleasing flavors to endure.