Revised: July 10, 2016
Home:  Coffee:  Coffee Glossary
Glossary of Coffee Terminology
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W

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.

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.

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.

Flavor is the most ambiguous term of all. Acidity has something to do with flavor, and so do body and aroma. Some coffees simply have a fuller, richer flavor than others, whereas other coffees have an acidy tang, for instance, that tends to dominate everything else. One can also speak of a distinctively flavored coffee, a coffee whose flavor 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 flavor. Some are obvious, many overlap, but all are useful.

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

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

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

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 flavor to the cup.

A positive characteristic applying to freshly harvested and roasted coffee whose flavor 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 sulfur, evoking a strong sensation on the olfactory membranes.

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.

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

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W

Home  |  Coffee  |  LibraryGallery  |  World
© 1995-2016 Robin Chew  |  Contact Us