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Coffee and Espresso Glossary, Dictionary and Terminology

Coffee and Espresso Glossary, Dictionary and Terminology
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Synopsis: Please note that terms can mean different things in different places. Many are used only in particular coffee shop chains so if you go to a different shop than usual, the staff might call your drink something else and they might not even know what you're talking about, so be prepared to describe it if necessary.

Coffee and Espresso Glossary, Dictionary and Terminology

acerbic

A taste fault in the coffee brew giving an acrid and sour sensation on the tongue. The result of long-chained organic compounds due to excessive heat during the holding process after brewing.

acid

A normal characteristic of arabica coffees, particularly of high-growth varieties. Some strains are sought for this particular taste (Kenya), which is influenced by the degree of roasting and does not seem to be objectively expressed by pH measurement. Experts recognize three types of acidity: 1) natural desirable: acid, 2) natural undesirable: sour, and 3) undesirable: process acidity (sometimes sought as a substitute for natural acidity but generally has a biting, puckery flavour.

acidy

A primary coffee taste sensation created as acids in the coffee combine with the sugars to increase the overall sweetness of the coffee. Found most often in washed arabica coffees grown at elevations about 4,000 feet, Acidy coffees range from piquant to nippy. A term used to describe a coffee in which this desirable cup characteristic occurs. Particularly desirable in Brazils and found in most Milds. Colombians have both acid and body. An acidy flavour is sharp and pleasing to the taste as opposed to sour, sourish, or fermented. It denotes a taste that has sharpness, snap, and life, compared to a sweet, heavy, mellow flavour. Old crops are never acidy.

acidity

Taste those high, thin notes, the dryness the coffee leaves at the back of your palate and under the edges of your tongue? This pleasant tartness, snap, or twist is what coffee people call acidity. It should be distinguished from sour, which in coffee terminology means an unpleasant sharpness. The acidy notes should be very clear and bright in the Mexican, a little softer and richer in the Sumatran, and overwhelming in the Yemen Mocha. Aged coffees, and some old crop, low-grown coffees, have little acidity and taste almost sweet. You may not run into the terms acidity or acidy in your local coffee seller's signs and brochures. Many retailers avoid describing a coffee as acidy for fear consumers will confuse a positive acidy brightness with an unpleasant sourness. Instead you will find a variety of creative euphemisms: bright, dry, sharp, vibrant, etc. An acidy coffee is somewhat analogous to a dry wine. In some coffees the acidy taste actually becomes distinctively winey; the winey aftertaste should be very clear in the Yemen Mocha. In brochures you may find the aftertaste that I call winey described with other terms; fruity is a favourite. Fruit connotes sweetness, however; I find the better analogy is to the sharpness of a dry wine, hence my preference for the term winey. The main challenge is to recognize the sensation, however; once you do that, you can call it anything you like.

acrid

A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized by a predominantly piercing sour sensation on the posterior sides of the tongue. Caused by higher-than-normal percentage of sour acids and a high concentration of salts. Typified by an unwashed Rio coffee from Brazil.

aftertaste

The sensation of brewed coffee vapors, ranging from carbony to chocolaty to spicy to turpeny. Released from the residue remaining in the mouth after swallowing. Aged A taste taint that gives coffee beans a less acidy taste and greater body. The result of enzyme activity in the green coffee beans creating a chemical change during the aging process after harvesting.

alkaline

A supplemental coffee taste sensation characterized by a dry sensation at the back of the tongue. Caused by the presence of alkaloid compounds.

arabica

"Coffee Arabica" is the species name assigned to the coffee tree by European botanist Linnaeus while categorizing the flora of the Arabian peninsula.

aroma

Strictly speaking, aroma can't be separated from acidity and flavour. Acidy coffees smell acidy, and richly flavoured coffees smell richly flavoured. Nevertheless, certain high, fleeting notes are reflected most clearly in the nose of a coffee, as some tasters say. There is frequently a subtle floral note to some coffee that is experienced most clearly in the aroma, particularly at the moment the crust is broken in the traditional tasting ritual. Of the three coffees I recommend for your tasting, you are most likely to detect this fresh floral note in the Yemen Mocha, but depending on the roast and freshness of the coffee you could experience it in any of the three samples. The best Colombian and Kona coffees are particularly noted for their floral aroma. The sensation of the gases released from brewed coffee, ranging from fruity to herby, as they are inhaled through the nose.

aromatic

Designates a coffee that fully manifests the aroma characteristic of its nature and origin.

astringent

A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized by a predominantly searing, salty sensation on the anterior sides of the tongue. Caused by acids increasing the saltiness. Typified by an unwashed Indonesia robusta coffee. Acids can cause astringency. In regard to coffee, astringency is identified with undesirable acidity.

baggy

An off-taste often observed in cups from weakly roasted coffees that have been stored for a long time in unsuitable conditions.

baked

A taste and odor taint that gives the coffee brew a flat bouquet and insipid taste. The result of the roasting process proceeding with too little heat over too long a period. Generally unpleasant characteristic of having an over-baked taste in an over-heated coffee. Ranks in the following order of intensity: cooked, baked or burnt.

balanced

This is a difficult term. When tasting coffees for defects, professional tasters use the term to describe a coffee that does not localize at any one point on the palate; in other words, it is not imbalanced in the direction of some one (often undesirable) taste characteristic. As a term of general evaluation, balance appears to mean that no one quality overwhelms all others, but there is enough complexity in the coffee to arouse interest. It is a term that on occasion damns with faint praise. The Mexican sample should be most balanced, but it has less to balance than the other two coffees. If you tasted the Yemen Mocha against a standard Ethiopian Harrar you would probably sense how the Yemen coffee is similar to the Harrar, but much more balanced. A well-balanced coffee contains all the basic characteristics to the right extent.

basic tastes

Sweet, sour, salt, and bitter. Characterized respectively by sucrose, tartaric acid, sodium chloride, and quinine.

beany

Specific aroma of an insufficiently roasted coffee that has not been able to develop its full aroma.

bitter

A basic taste characterized by solution of quinine, caffeine, and certain other alkaloids. Perceived primarily at the back of the tongue. Generally normal characteristics of coffees connected with their chemical constitution, influenced by degree of roasting and the method of preparing the brew. Canephora are more bitter than arabica coffees. A desirable characteristic at a certain level.

black beans

Dead coffee beans that have dropped from the trees before harvesting. Used as the basic unit for counting imperfections in grading coffee on the New York Coffee Exchange. Has a detrimental effect on coffee taste.

bland

Lacking coffee flavour and characteristics. A primary coffee taste sensation created as the sugars in the coffee combine with the salts to reduce the overall saltiness of the coffee. Found most often in washed arabica coffees grown at elevations below 2,000 feet, such as a Guatemalan. Bland coffees range from soft to neutral.

body

Body or mouth feel is the sense of heaviness, richness, and thickness at the back of the tongue when you swish the coffee around your mouth. The coffee is not actually heavy; it just tastes that way. To follow a wine analogy again, burgundies and certain other red wines are heavier in body than clarets and most white wines. In this case wine and coffee tasters use the same term for a similar phenomenon. The Mexican coffee should have the lightest body and the Sumatran the heaviest, with the Yemen Mocha somewhere in the middle. If you can't distinguish body, try pouring milk into each coffee. Note how the flavour of the heavy-bodied Sumatran carries through the milk, whereas the flavour of the Mexican dies away. If you drink coffee with milk, you should buy a heavy-bodied coffee. If you drink black coffee, you may prefer a lighter-bodied variety. The physical properties of the beverage resulting in the tactile sensations perceived in the mouth during and after ingestion. Used to describe the mouthfeel of a drink, corresponding to a certain consistency.

bouquet

The total aromatic profile created by the sensations of gases and vapors on the olfactory membranes as a result of the volatile organic compounds present in the fragrance, aroma, nose, and aftertaste of coffee.

brackish

A taste fault giving the coffee brew a salty and alkaline sensation. The result of salts and alkaline inorganic material left after evaporation of water from the brew due to excessive heat after brewing.

bready

Bready taste manifests in coffees that have not been roasted long enough or at a high enough temperature to bring out the flavour oils.

brew

Specific taste of a good home brew prepared properly.

briny

Applies to a coffee that has been over-roasted.

buttery

A relatively high level of oily material suspended in the coffee beverage. The result of substantial amounts of fat present in the beans. Most often a characteristic of high coffee-to-water ratio brews.

canephora

The coffee species second in importance to "Coffee Arabica," "Coffee Robusta" is known by botanists as "Coffee Canephora."

caramelly

An aromatic sensation created by a moderately volatile set of sugar carbonyl compounds found in coffee's nose that produce sensations reminiscent of either candy or syrup.

caramelized

Corresponds to the taste acquired by roasted beans that have been dipped in sugar, dextrin syrup, or molasses before roasting. Also perceived in spray-dried instant coffees.

carbony

An aromatic sensation created by a slightly volatile set of heterocyclic compounds found in coffee's aftertaste that produces either sensations similar to a creosol-like substance or a burnt substance.

caustic

A detrimental coffee taste sensation characterized by burning, sour sensation on the posterior sides of the tongue. Caused by alkaloids increasing the sourness of the acids in combination with a high percentage of salts.

chaff (Roasting)

Chaff is paper-like stuff that appears though the roasting process. These little brown flakes are fragments of the innermost skin (the silverskin) of the coffee fruit that still cling to the beans after processing has been completed. Roasting causes these bits of skin to lift off the bean.

chemical

A definite chemical flavour (such as formaldehyde) not to be confused with Rio flavour.

chicory

A complex bitter-acid and sweetish taste characteristic of the root of the chicory plant.

chocolaty

An aromatic sensation created by a moderately volatile set of pyrazine compounds found in coffee's aftertaste that produce sensations reminiscent of unsweetened chocolate of vanilla.

city or full city roast

"City" is a roast that is slightly darker than the American roasting norm. "Full City" is definitely darker than norm; sometimes patches of oil on surface.

clean

Without off-flavour

common

Coffee of ordinary and average quality.

complexity

Complexity describes flavour that shifts among pleasurable possibilities; a harmonious multiplicity of sensation. The Yemen Mocha definitely should be complex; if the Sumatran is a good one it should also be complex; the Mexican is undoubtedly the least complex coffee of the three.

cooked

A typical taste of an instant coffee treated at too high a temperature.

course

A coffee that is rough on the tongue.

creamy

Moderately high level of oily material suspended in the coffee beverage. The result of pronounced amounts of fats present in the beans.

creosol

A supplemental coffee taste sensation characterized by a predominantly scratching sensation at the back of the tongue. Caused by the high percentage of phenolic compounds created by a dark roast.

dark

Roasting term meaning dark brown beans with a shiny surface; equivalent to espresso or French roast

decaffeination process

Coffees are decaffeinated in their green state. Three principal processes are used today: the traditional or European process, the water-only or Swiss-Water Process, and the CO2/water or Sparkling Water Process. All are consistently successful in removing all but a trace (2% to 3%) of the resident caffeine.

decaffeinated taste

Special process taste often found in decaffeinated coffees. Due to something lacking or to additional flavours.

delicate

A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized by fragile sweet-subtle sensation just past the tip of the tongue. Caused by the lowest possible combination of sugars and salts that still produce a sweet cast to the taste, a combination easily broken up by other taste sensations. Typified by a washed New Guinea arabica coffee.

depth

Depth describes the resonance or sensual power behind the sensations that drive the taste of the coffee. It is a tricky and subjective term, but it tries to get at the way certain coffees open up and support their sensations with a sort of ringing, echoing power, whereas others simply present themselves to the palate and then stand pat or even fade.

detrimental coffee taste sensations

Common to natural coffees that are harsh due to bitter replacing sweet in the taste modulation. The result of sugars being ingested by the shrub as the cherries remain on the branches while drying. Range from medicinal to caustic.

dirty

Literally a dirty flavour, not earthy or musty.

dull

A coffee is dull if it gives an impression of roundness but at the same time lacks character. Dull comes close to the meaning of flat.

earthiness

Earthiness is a flavour defect deriving from careless, primitive processing that in some contexts may be seen as virtues. Some Harrar coffees sold in specialty stores may have a hint of wildness or earthiness to them. Roasters from Italy often like to include some earthy-tasting Brazilian coffees in their espresso blends. If a New Orleans blend is at all authentic it also should have some Brazilian wildness in it. If the earthy taste dominates to the point that the coffee tastes distinctly sour or harsh, this quality becomes a flavour defect; you won't find such coffees in specialty stores. Your Sumatran sample may have a hint of earthiness or mustiness to it, but it shouldn't.

earthy

An odor taint in the coffee beans that produces a dirt-like taste sensation. Results when fats in the coffee beans absorb organic materials from the ground in the drying process during harvesting. Also referred to as dirty and groundy. The undesirable odor and taste of freshly turned soil is found in low-graded batches. Due to poor preparation conditions and botanical origins of the green coffee. Reminiscent of potato flavour also found in instant coffees.

fermented

A taste fault in the coffee beans producing a highly displeasing sour sensation on the tongue. The result of enzyme activity in the green coffee beans changing the sugars to acids in the drying process during harvesting.

fine cup

Coffee with good, positive characteristics.

finish

If aroma is the overture of the coffee, then finish is the resonant silence at the end of the piece. Finish is a term relatively recently brought over into coffee tasting from wine connoisseurship; it describes the aftertaste that lingers on the palate after the coffee is spit out or swallowed. It is in part a reflection of body; heavier-bodied coffees like the Sumatran will have a much longer finish than lighter-bodied coffees like the Mexican.

flat

An odor taint in the coffee bean or brew meaning that limited range of gases and vapors is present in almost imperceptible strength. Due to aromatic compounds leaving the beans as part of the staling process after roasting or the holding process after brewing.

flavour

Flavour is the most ambiguous term of all. Acidity has something to do with flavour, and so do body and aroma. Some coffees simply have a fuller, richer flavour than others, whereas other coffees have an acidy tang, for instance, that tends to dominate everything else. One can also speak of a distinctively flavoured coffee, a coffee whose flavour characteristics stand out. Of the three coffees I suggest that you sample, the Yemen Mocha is probably the most distinctive, the Mexican the least distinctive, and the Sumatran the richest. The following are some terms and categories often used to evaluate flavour. Some are obvious, many overlap, but all are useful.

flavour defects

Harshness and sourness are two of the most widely used negative epithets. Harshly flavoured coffees are unpleasantly bitter, sharp, or irritating. Terms like grassy, hidey, barnyard fermented, musty, and Rioy (medicinal) describe even more dramatically undesirable flavour characteristics. All of these characteristics derive from careless processing. Presumably the coffees you taste will be superior, hence free from such defects.

foreign

A term that generally covers a number of imperfect flavours coming from contamination, for example, rubbery or mouldy.

foul

A rank, strong, fermented flavour or any other strong, unpleasant defective flavour, such as hidey or oniony.

fragrance

The sensation of the gases released from ground coffee as they are inhaled through the nose. Ranges from sweetly floral to sweetly spicy.

french roast

When applied to roasting coffee, means that the bean is roasted high enough to bring the natural oil of the coffee to the surface. Gives a roasted flavour to the cup.

fresh

A positive characteristic applying to freshly harvested and roasted coffee whose flavour is particularly vivid. An aromatic highlight in the coffee bean and brew that is highly pleasing. The result of extremely volatile organic compounds, particularly those containing sulphur, evoking a strong sensation on the olfactory membranes.

fruity

An aromatic sensation created by a highly volatile set of aldehydes and esters found in coffee's aroma. Either a sweet sensation reminiscent of citrus fruit or a dry sensation reminiscent of berry fruit.

full

An intensity description of bouquet indicating gases and vapors are present at a moderately pronounced strength.

good cup quality

Coffee with good, positive all-round characteristics.

grady

A background flavour of dirtiness but not qualifying as dirty. Mostly used in the United States.

grassy

A odor taint giving the coffee beans a distinct herbal character similar to freshly mown alfalfa combined with the astringency of green grass. Created by the prominence of nitrogen compounds in the green beans while the cherries are maturing. Typical taste of unripe beans and of certain freshly harvested coffee batches, corresponding to the beginning of the harvest.

green

A taste taint giving the coffee brew an herbal character due to an incomplete development of the sugar carbon compounds in the roasting process. Results from insufficient heat during too short a period. A taste associated with that of a raw fresh vegetable leaf, often found in early new-crop coffees.

hard

A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized by a predominantly stinging, sour sensation on the posterior sides of the tongue. Caused by higher-than-normal percentage of sour acids and an insufficient percentage of either sugars or salts. Coffee that strikes the palette by mixed sensation. Bitterness and astringency are not are not enveloped by roundness of body. A hard coffee is poorly balanced. Indicates the quality of the coffee ranking as a matter of degree from strictly soft, soft, softish, softish/hardish, hardish, hard, Rioy.

harsh

Acrid. Sensation at the same time bitter and astringent, raspy, and disagreeable. Particularly found in some poor quality robusta coffees. Often due to imperfect beans.

heavy

A moderately high level of solid material suspended in the coffee beverage. Result of fine particles of bean fiber and insoluble proteins present in pronounced amounts.

heavy roast

Coffee beans roasted to a very dark brown, with a shiny surface; equivalent to Italian Roast.

herby

An aromatic sensation created by a highly volatile set of aldehydes and esters found in coffee's aroma. Produces either an sensation reminiscent of an onion or green vegetable.

hidey

An odor taint that gives the coffee beans a tallowy and leather-like odor. Result of a breakdown of fats in the coffee beans, due to an excessive amount of heat applied in the drying process during harvesting, usually when dried with a mechanical dryer.

hydrolyzed

Refers to conventional type of instant coffee having an undesirable acidity due to treatment. Generally associated with over-extraction.

insipid

A taste taint giving the coffee brew a lifeless character, due to a loss of organic material in the coffee bean. Result of oxygen and moisture penetrating the bean fiber after roasting.

instant taste

Reflects fewer of the organoleptic characteristics that typify home-brewed coffee.

intensity

A qualitative measure of the number and relative strengths of the gases and vapors present in the bouquet of the coffee.

italian roast

Term applied to coffee that has been roasted darker than French Roast. Much used by Italians, as well as in many of the coffee producing countries.

light

A moderately low level of solid material suspended in the coffee beverage. Result of fine particles of bean fiber and insoluble proteins present in perceptible amounts.

malty

An aromatic sensation created by a moderately volatile set of aldehydes and ketones that produces sensations reminiscent of toasted grains.

medicinal

A detrimental coffee taste sensation characterized by a penetrating sour sensation on the posterior sides of the tongue. Caused by alkaloids increasing the sourness of the acids without any taste modulation of sweetness.

medium roast

Coffee beans roasted to the American norm.

mellow

A primary coffee taste sensation created as salts in the coffee combine with sugars to increase the overall sweetness. Characteristic found most often in washed arabica coffees grown at elevations below 4,000 feet, such Kona coffee from Hawaii. Mellow ranges from mild to delicate.

mild

A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized by a predominantly sweet tingle just past the tip of the tongue. Caused by high concentrations of both sugars and salts. Typified by a washed Sumatran coffee.

mouldy

Coffee may acquire a mouldy taste if kept in poor conditions. Moldiness also depends on conditions during the pulping and cleaning of green beans.

muddy

Characterizes a large quantity of particles in suspension in the beverage.

musty

An odor taint giving the coffee beans a mouldy odor. Result of fats in coffee beans absorbing organic material from molds on or in contact with the coffee beans during the drying process. Often the result of insufficient or proper drying and aging.

neutral

A secondary coffee taste characterized by the absence of a predominant taste sensation on any part of the tongue but causing a distinct parching sensation on the sides of the tongue. Caused by a concentration of salts high enough to neutralize both acids and sugars but not enough to provoke a salty sensation. Typified by washed Uganda robusta coffee.

new crop

A taste taint giving the coffee beans a slight herbal character when brewed. Result of an incomplete enzymatic change that ultimately eliminates this taste taint during the aging process.

nippy

A secondary coffee taste characterized by a predominantly sweet, nipping sensation at the tip of the tongue. Caused by a higher-than-normal percentage of acids being sour.

nose

The sensation of the vapors released from brewed coffee as they are exhaled while swallowing. Ranges from caramelly to nutty to malty.

nutty

An aromatic sensation created by a moderately volatile set of aldehydes and ketones that produce sensations reminiscent of roasted nuts. Characteristic of poor quality beans, that float, remain lighter in colour and have a peanut flavour.

oily

A term sometimes used to denote a coffee that has a roasted oily taste due to a high degree of roasting or an oily coffee having a greasy but not rancid taste.

old

A roasted coffee that has been left for too long changes aroma and acquires a specific and disagreeable flavour. Similar to oldish but with stronger hay-like flavour.

oldish

A complete lack of freshness. Somewhat flat taste with a slight flavour of hay.

oniony

Has a flavour of onions.

organic

Organic is an important descriptive term in the contemporary coffee world. An organically-grown coffee must be certified by an international agency as having been grown without synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. Somewhat lower yields and the considerable cost of the certification process account for the higher prices demanded for many organic coffees.

ordinary

Below average quality for growth, grade and type. Bland.

papery

Taste that coffee packed in paper bags or prepared in bad quality filter paper may acquire. In instant coffee can be the result of certain processing operations.

past crop

A taste taint that gives coffee beans a slightly less acidy taste. Result of enzyme changes in the coffee beans during the aging process.

peasy

A disagreeable taste of very fresh green peas.

piquant

A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized by a predominantly sweet, prickling sensation at the tip of the tongue. Caused by a higher-than-normal percentage of acids actually sweet to the taste instead of sour. Typified by a Kenya AA coffee.

point

A coffee with good positive characteristics of flavour, body and acidity.

poor

Qualifies a coffee of really common flavour.

potato

Has an unpleasant taste of raw potato.

primary coffee taste sensations

Acidy, mellow, winey, bland, sharp and soury.

process taste

This term reflects a number of defects. Some technological treatment of coffee can develop well-identified off-flavours: cooked, caramelized, cereal, and acrid.

pulping

First step after picking in preparing coffee by the wet method. It consists of removing the outer skin. Machines rub away the pulp without crushing the beans.

pulpy

Strong, pungent, fruit-like flavour from coffee cherry skins.

pungent

Applies essentially to a full-bodied and slightly aggressive coffee.

pyrolysis

The temperature (around 465F/240C) at which chemical changes in roasting coffee beans cause them to emit their own heat, thus raising the temperature of the roasting chamber.

quakers

Term applied to unripe, blighted, or underdeveloped coffee beans.

quakery

A taste taint giving coffee brew a pronounced peanutty flavour. Result of the presence of light colored, underdeveloped, roasted coffee beans. Caused by picking unripe, green, coffee cherries during harvesting.

rancid

A taste fault giving the coffee brew a highly displeasing taste. The rancid flavour of a roasted coffee is caused by the oxidation of the fats.

rich

Intensity description indicating gases and vapors are present at highly pronounced strengths.

richness

Richness partly refers to body, partly to flavour; at times even to acidity. The term describes an interesting, satisfying fullness. Of the coffees I suggest you try, the Sumatran should be the richest in body and the Yemen Mocha should have the richest acidity. The term rich would probably not be used in any context with the Mexican coffee.

rio

With particular reference to Brazils, an iodine-like flavour that can be very pungent.

rioy

A taste fault giving the coffee beans a highly pronounced medicinal character. Result of continued enzyme activity when coffee beans remain in the fruit and the fruit dries on the shrub. Usually associated with natural processed coffees grown in Brazil. Typified by coffees grown in the Rio district of Brazil.

roasty

Relative strength of the natural components of the coffee flavour is modified by the degree of roasting, resulting in high character.

roast taste

Terms describing the characteristic collective flavour complex of darker roasts. The acidy notes are gone, replaced by pungent notes combined with a subtle, caramel sweetness. Some people call this often unnamed group of sensations "roast taste" or the "taste of the roast."

robusta

High in caffeine and rather bitter. Generally less acid and less aromatic than arabica coffee. Often slightly woody.

rough

A secondary coffee sensation characterized by a predominantly rasping, salty sensation on the palette or tongue. Caused by the additive property of salt taste sensations.

round

A balanced coffee whose basic organoleptic characteristics are just at the right level, with none particularly apparent, giving the impression of roundness.

rounded

An intensity description indicating a reduced range of gases and vapors is present at a moderately perceptible strength.

rubbery

A taste fault giving the coffee beans a highly pronounced burnt-rubber character. Result of continued enzyme activity in the coffee bean when it remains in the fruit and the fruit is allowed to dry on the shrub. Usually associated with natural processed robusta coffees grown in Africa.

salt

A basic taste characterized by solutions of chlorides, bromides, iodides, nitrates, and sulfates of potassium and lithium.

scorched

A odor taint that gives the coffee brew a slight aftertaste of phenolic and pyridine character with an underdevelopment of the caramelization of compounds. Result of applying too much heat and charring the surface of the bean during the roasting process.

secondary coffee taste sensations

Piquant to nippy, mild to delicate, tangy to tart, soft to neutral, rough to astringent, hard to acrid.

sharp

A primary coffee taste sensation created as acids in the coffee combine with salts to increase the overall saltiness. Characteristic found most often in unwashed robusta coffee. Sharp coffee ranges from rough to astringent.

smooth

A moderately low level of oily material suspended in the coffee beverage. Result of fats in the beans present in perceptible amounts.

soft

A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized by an absence of any predominant taste sensation on any part of the tongue, except for subtle dryness. Caused by a concentration of salts high enough to neutralize the acids but not high enough to neutralize the sugars. Typified by washed arabica coffee from Santos, Brazil.

soft-sweet

A pleasant clean taste. Denotes a smooth cup free of any foreign flavours. applies particularly to Brazilian coffee.

sound cup

A coffee with no particular positive characteristic and without negative characteristics.

sour

A basic taste characterized by solutions of tartaric acid, citric acid, or malic acid. The unpleasant acidity of a sour coffee cannot be confused with the natural acidity of some coffees in which this quality is prized. Perceived at the tip of the tongue.

soury

A primary coffee taste sensation created as acids in the coffee combine with salts to increase overall saltiness. Characteristic found most often in unwashed robusta coffees. Soury ranges from hard to acrid.

spicy

An aromatic sensation created by a slightly volatile set of hydrocarbon compounds in coffee's aftertaste that produces sensations reminiscent of either wood-spice (cinnamon) or wood-seed (Clove).

stale

A taste fault that gives the coffee brew an unpleasant taste. Result of moisture and oxygen penetrating the bean fiber and adversely affecting the organic material that remains in the coffee bean, occurring in the staling process after roasting.

stewed

A taste of coffee infusion that has been heated after cooling and lost its initial aroma.

stinker

A coffee with no particular positive characteristics and without negative characteristics.

strawy

A taste taint that gives the coffee bean a distinct hay-like character. Result of the loss of organic material from the green coffee beans while in storage, occurring in the aging process after harvesting.

strong

Coffee giving a pungent impression in the cup, rich in flavour. Developed by roasting or having a consistent mouthfeel.

sweaty

A coffee probably fading to faded, that has been stored for some time in less-than-ideal conditions and results in a distinct sweaty taste.

sweet

A basic taste characterized by solutions of sugars (sucrose and glucose), alcohols, glycols, and some amino acids. perceived primarily by the tip of the tongue. A trade term to describe coffee free from harshness of Rio flavour or any form of damage.

sweetly floral

An aromatic sensation created by a highly volatile set of aldehydes and esters that produce sweet fragrance sensations reminiscent of a flower.

sweetly spicy

An aromatic sensation created by a highly volatile set of aldehydes and esters that produce a spicy fragrance sensations reminiscent of a sweet spice.

sultana coffee

The dried husks of the coffee cherry.

supplemental coffee taste sensations

Common to dark roast coffees that are pungent due to bitter replacing a sweet in the taste modulation ranging form creosol to alkaline.

tainted

A coffee with a slightly defective flavour.

tangy

A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized by a predominantly darting, sour sensation along the sides of the tongue. Caused by a high-than-normal percentage of sugars, giving the taste almost a fruity sensation. Typified by unwashed India arabica coffees.

tarry

A taste fault giving the coffee brew an unpleasant burnt character. Occurs during the holding process after brewing, a result of condensation and scorching of proteins.

tart

A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized by a predominantly puckering, sour sensation along the sides of the tongue. Caused by higher-than-normal percentage of sour acids, almost giving the taste a puckering sensation.

thick

A relatively high level of solid material suspended in the coffee beverage. A result of fine particles of bean fiber and insoluble proteins present in substantial amounts. Most often characteristic of espresso-style coffee.

thin

A relatively low level of solid material suspended in the coffee beverage. A result of fine particles of bean fiber and insoluble proteins present in imperceptible amounts. Lacks body or substance and is insufficiently concentrated and roasted.

tipped

A taste taint giving the coffee brew a cereal-like taste. Result of heat being applied too quickly in the roasting process, charring the tip of the bean.

tipping

Charring the end of the coffee bean during the roasting process, by applying an intense heat too quickly.

turpeny

An aromatic sensation created by a slightly volatile set of hydrocarbon compounds and nitrites found in coffee's aftertaste that produces either resinous sensations similar to turpentine or medicinal sensations similar to camphor.

twisty

A coffee showing differing negative characteristics in a single cup or from cup to cup. A coffee with unreliable characteristics.

unclean

Having off-flavour. Generally depends on the geographic origin of the beans and how they have been treated. A flavour slightly similar to fermenting but without the pungent, rotting taste.

undefinable flavour

A coffee with an "off" taste that can not be categorized.

vapid

An odor taint in the coffee brew marked by a loss of organic material that would normally be in a gaseous state in both the aroma and nose of the brew. Occurs during the staling process after the roasting or the holding process after brewing.

varietal distinction or character

If the coffee has characteristics that both set it off from other coffees, yet identify it as what it is, it has varietal distinction. In one sense, all of your three samples are distinctive, because they probably embody the best and most characteristic traits of the growing region from which they came. In another sense the Yemen Mocha and Sumatran could be seen as much more distinctive than the Mexican, simply because the Mexican embodies what for North Americans is a version of the normative coffee taste, whereas the other two coffees have characteristics that set them off from that norm. The rich, winey acidity of the Yemen Mocha immediately suggests that it is either a Yemen coffee or a good Ethiopian, for example; the heavy body and rich finish of the Sumatran identifies it as a good Indonesian coffee. It would be difficult to distinguish the Mexican coffee from a Peruvian, for example, or from any one of several other Latin American coffees.

variety

A qualitative description of the gases and vapors present in the fragrance, aroma, nose and aftertaste of coffee's bouquet, which create a complex pattern of sensations of the olfactory membranes.

watery

A relatively low level of oily material suspended in the coffee beverage. Result of slightly perceptible amounts of fats present in the beans.

weak

Coffee that lacks body but is not flat.

wild

A taste fault in the coffee beans characterized by extreme variation between sample cups. Usually marked by unpleasant sourness. Result of internal chemical changes in the green coffee beans or external contamination.

winey

A primary coffee taste sensation created as the sugars in the coffee combine with the acids to reduce the overall sourness. Characteristic found most often in unwashed arabica coffees grown at elevations above 4,000 feet, such as an unwashed Djimmah from Ethiopia. Winey coffees range from tangy to tart. Special and agreeable flavour acquired by certain mocha-type, freshly milled, or first crop coffees.

wishy-washy

Negative in all aspects but with no defective flavour.

woody

A taste fault giving the coffee beans a distinct, unpleasant wood-like character. Result of an almost complete loss of organic material in the green beans during storage. Makes coffee unsuitable for commercial purposes. Reminiscent of the odor of dry wood.



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