Tasting Notes in Coffee

Today in our From Farm to Cup blog series, we are going to discuss: tasting notes in coffee. If you have ever bought bags of coffee before and noticed the taste profile notes, you have probably thought to yourself, “where do these flavors come from?!” Coffee beans can have all sorts of diverse flavors in them. Different brew methods and coffee/water ratios will change the tasting notes slightly for every coffee. The most well-grown washed, and roasted coffee beans will be rich and abundant in taste and flavor. 

The flavors listed on those coffee bags are actually natural flavors that are brought out through the roasting of the coffee beans. Depending on how the coffee is roasted (light, medium, dark, etc.), the origin of the coffee, and the process of cleaning the coffee, the different flavor profiles will develop. Tasting coffee is a simple process, yet many complex steps can be added to tasting coffee. ♦1

Professional baristas and coffee tasters look at a scorecard to rate coffee taste profiles. The key factors that tasters look at is tasting roast profile, aroma, acidity, sweetness, mouthfeel, balance, aftertaste, and overall flavor. Tasting coffee professionally is called cupping and is a fun and nerdy process that is an enjoyable experience for all coffee professionals. Tasting is essential for coffee, as it is important for roasters to accurately describe their coffee and to ensure they are selling the best product they can be. 

Tasting coffee does not have to only be done professionally. By brewing and drinking coffee, any person can taste coffee. At home, any coffee drinker can try and brew coffee with different methods and ratios and then focus on what they taste and how brewing coffee with slight variations makes a difference. For home brewers, it is also enjoyable to watch videos on cupping or attend a coffee cupping to learn more about hands-on coffee tasting. Developing a palate for coffee makes drinking coffee an even better experience. ♦2

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♦1 – Hoffman, James. “The World Atlas of Coffee.” Octopus Books, 10.4.2018.
♦2 – Rao, Scott. “The Coffee Roaster’s Companion.” 2014.

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