Coffee Descriptions

There is no such thing as a strong cup of coffee!  The modifier “strong” is the most frequently misused descriptor of a coffee’s taste.  When we say a coffee is “strong,” what do we mean?

Strong means many different things to many different people.  To avoid this confusion, coffee professionals avoid using the word “strong” when describing a cup of coffee.  Instead, there are approximately 4 different categories across which we can describe a cup of coffee to better understand and explain the experience.  These words and categories are meant only to clarify what a coffee tastes like – not to determine which one is “better.”

Like other premium beverages, the best tasting cup of coffee is a personal decision based on your own taste preferences.  A darker roast is not a better roast; full bodied is not better than medium body, the decision as to which one is best is entirely yours! 

BODY – What does the coffee feel like in your mouth?  Is it Thick/Full (like whole milk) or Thin/Light (like water)?

FLAVOR – What flavors do you taste? Is it spicy, fruity, or nutty?  Is the flavor Mild or Intense

AROMA – What do you smell?  Floral, fruity, musty?  Is the aroma strong and intense or weak and subdued?  (Coffee’s aroma fades with age…can you tell if it is stale?)

ACIDITY – What is the coffee’s texture in your mouth?  What is the sensation of dryness in the back and around the edges of your mouth?  Low acidity has a soft and smooth texture.  Medium acidity is a little snappy. And High acidity has a crisp, snappy finish, similar to red wine.  Acidity is closely linked to a coffee’s origin: Coffee from South America is typically low in acidity; Coffee from the Pacific is usually medium acidity; and Coffee from Africa typically has high acidity.