Tasting Terms

Acidity: bright, brisk, floral fruity, winey, sour, bitter, harsh, sharp, salt, sweet

Body: oily, buttery, creamy, thick, viscose, heavy, light, full, medium, thin The pleasant sharp taste or bite in the mouth. One of the most important tasting categories and a much sought-after quality. A coffee with acidity is brisk and bright with a lively “snap” or tingle, NOT acidic or sour. A good comparison is the dry sensation in wines. Coffee lacking acidity tends to be bland and lifeless. The darker a coffee is roasted, the less acidy it becomes. However, strong acidity in a green bean shows up in a dark roast as sharpness or pungency.


How the weight of a coffee is physically perceived in the mouth. Body or mouth-feel is the sensation of heaviness in the mouth. It also registers
as a rich, full feeling at the back of the palate. As coffee approaches a medium to dark roast, body increases. As it passes into a very dark
roast (dark French), body decreases.

Aroma/Fragrance: floral, fruity, winey, nutty, caramelly, chocolaty, vanilla-like, herbal, spicy, smoky, turpeny, acidy

The scent emanating from hot, freshly brewed coffee that is difficult to separate from the flavour. Aroma refers to a coffee’s smell, which is released from the beans once they are brewed. A coffee’s aroma may range from flowery to nutty. Aroma is less developed in very light roasts, peaks in intensity in medium to medium-dark roasts and falls off in very dark roasts.

Finish: long, resonant, round, fresh, clean, floral, fruity, acidy, winey, spicy, thin, negligible, fast-fading, hard, astringent, defective, fermented, baggy, grassy, medicinal

The aftertaste that lingers on the palate after the coffee is swallowed. Heavier bodied coffees like the Sumatran will have a much longer finish than lighter bodied coffees like the Mexican.

Flavour: pungent, herbal, earthy, wild, nutty caramelly, chocolaty, vanilla-like, floral, fruity, complex, deep, balanced, bland, rough, sweet, winey, mellow, bland, spicy.

Acidity, body and aroma. Some coffees simply have a fuller, richer flavour than others whereas, other coffees have an acidy tang that dominates everything else. Some have no flavour.

  • Bright, dry or sharp (Central American coffees)
  • Caramelly – candy like or syrupy
  • Chocolaty – an aftertaste similar to unsweetened chocolate
  • Defects – fermented, medicinal, moldy, musty, baggy, grassy, woody, pulpy, earthy, groundy
  • Delicate – a subtle flavour perceived on the tip of the tongue [typical of washed New Guinea Arabica]
  • Earthy – a soily characteristic (typical of Sumatran coffees)
  • Fragrant – an aromatic characteristic ranging from floral to spicy
  • Fruity – an aromatic characteristic reminiscent of berries, tangerine or citrus
  • Mellow – a round, smooth taste, typically lacking acid and very balanced
  • Nutty – an aftertaste similar to roasted nuts (hazelnut, macadamia nut)
  • Spicy – a flavour and aroma reminiscent of spices
  • Sweet – free of harshness espresso
  • Wildness – a gamey or wild cherry flavour that is not usually considered favourable but is typical of Ethiopian coffees and makes an excellent espresso
  • Winey – an aftertaste reminiscent of well-matured wine (typical of Kenyan and Yemeni)

Parksville, BC