Coffee Terms everybody uses or should use
Coffee Terms, these are the coffee terms that all the pros and coffee geeks use, knowing these terms will help you along the difficult road of being a coffee geek and give you a leg up when talking to coffee snobs or coffee hipsters, here is a list of these coffee terms that are often thrown about.
Acidity – A measure of the acid content of the liquid; in fine coffees acidity results in a pleasant sharpness. Not to be associated with the genuinely sour taste of inferior coffees.
Aftertaste – The sensation of brewed coffee vapors released after swallowing. Characteristics will range from carbony to chocolaty, spicy to turpeny.
Aged – Beans stored for a year or more prior to roasting, a wait that reduces acid while developing Sweetness and Body.
Aroma – The sensation of the gases released from brewed coffee; may be described as ranging from fruity to herby.
Baked – Possessing an underdeveloped flavor, the result of insufficient roasting at low temperatures.
Bitter – Perceived by the back of the tongue and characterized by solutions of quinine, caffeine, and other alkaloids; usually caused by over-roasting.
Bland – Perceived by the sides of the tongue and ranging in taste from “soft” to neutral. Found often in washed Arabica coffees such as Guatemalan Low Grown.
Body – Associated with mouthfeel and texture, this should be a strong, full, pleasant characteristic; see mouthfeel.
Bouquet – The total aromatic profile, resulting from compounds in the fragrance, aroma, and aftertaste.
Bright – A term sometimes used for coffee with good pleasant acidity.
Burnt – A bitter, acrid flavor sometimes found in overly dark-roasted.
Buttery – A coffee whose full flavor and oily Mouthfeel bring to mind the richness of butter.
Caramelly – A common aromatic sensation; reminiscent of candy or syrup.
Carbony – A common aromatic sensation in dark roasted coffees, reminiscent of a burnt substance.
Chocolaty – A common aromatic sensation in a brew’s aftertaste, reminiscent of unsweetened chocolate or vanilla.
Cinnamony – A light, sweet, spicy flavor reminiscent of cinnamon.
Clean – Coffee whose flavors are clear and untainted.
Cocoay – A thin taste of cocoa, usually associated with Stale coffee.
Dead – Like Flat, lacking in distinctive Aroma, Fragrance, or Aftertaste, sometimes particularly used to denote a coffee lacking in acidity.
Delicate – Related to mellow; characterized by a fragile, subtle flavor; perceived by the tip of the tongue. Found in washed New Guinea Arabica coffee.
Dirty – An unclean smell or taste that can be specific such as sourness or mustiness, or a more generalized taint that reminds one of eating dirt.
Earthy – Like Dirty, tasting of the earth.
Flat – Used when describing bouquet to denote a lack of strong perceptions in fragrance, aroma, and aftertaste; also called dead.
Flavor – The experience of aromatics once the coffee is in the mouth.
Floral – Having a subtle Fragrance pleasantly reminiscent of flowers, present in lighter roasts more often than in darker.
Fragrance – The aromatic sensations inhaled by sniffing; can be described as ranging from sweetly floral to sweetly spicy.
Fruity – An aromatic sensation reminiscent of citrus fruit of berries.
Grassy – Used to describe an odor and/or taste in some coffees that is reminiscent of a freshly mown lawn, with an accompanying astringency like that of green grass.
Green – Coffee that tastes sharp and herbaceous, usually resulting from too-early harvesting or under roasting.
Groundy – Tasting Musty or Earthy, usually due to improper storage.
Hard – A coffee that is neither Mild nor Sweet; sometimes used for coffees that smell of iodine.
Harsh – A hard, raspy, often caustic flavor sometimes described as “rioy”.
Hidy – Tasting of leather, usually due to the beans close contact with animal during storage or shipping.
Lifeless – Lacking in acidity due to underbrewing. See thin.
Light – An adjective used to modify descriptions of acidity, Aroma, or Body.
Mellow – A rounded, smooth taste, characteristically lacking in acidity.
Mild – Refers to a coffee that lacks any overriding characteristic, either pleasant of unpleasant.
Mouthfeel – The tactile sensations the coffee produces on your palate.
Muddy – A dull, indistinct, and thickish flavor that can be caused by the grounds being agitated.
Musty – A flavor that often occurs due to poor storage or lack of sufficient drying, aging or overheating. In aged coffees mustiness is not necessarily undesirable.
Neutral – Lacking in any Strong characteristics – a desirable trait in coffees used as the base for blends. A flavor characteristic that is desirable in good blenders. Used to denote a lack of any strong flavors.
Nutty – An aromatic sensation that is released as a brew is swallowed; reminiscent of roasted nuts.
Rich – Used when describing bouquet to denote intense perceptions of fragrance, aroma, and aftertaste.
Rioy – A somewhat grainy or starchy taste, like potato soup in texture.
Rough – Characterized by a parched sensation on the tongue, related to sharp, salty taste sensations.
Rubbery – Caused when fruit is allowed to partially dry while still on the tree, this is a fault that gives beans the character of burnt rubber. It is found mostly in dry-processed Robusta, not Arabica.
Soft – The absence of the parched sensation on the tongue; related to bland.
Sour – Related to over-acidity; a sharp, biting flavor, often from underripe beans.
Spicy – an aromatic and taste perception reminiscent of spices.
Sweet – Free of any harshness.
Taint – A chemical change in the bean brought about by any number of internal or external changes, which results in a change in the coffee’s flavor.
Thin – Related to under brewing, resulting in a coffee lacking in any acidity; also referred to as lifeless.
Turpeny – Tasting like turpentine smells.
Watery – Caused by the wrong water-to-coffee ratio, which results in the low level of oils in the coffee. This is a mouthfeel.
Wild – A gamey flavor often associated with Ethiopian coffees.
Winey – Reminiscent of a well-matured red wine; characterized by a full-bodied, smooth coffee. Often found in Kenya and Yemeni coffees.