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Flavor Characteristics

General flavor characteristics

  • Richness—refers to body and fullness
  • Complexity— the perception of multiple flavors
  • Balance— the satisfying presence of all the basic taste characteristics where no one over-powers another

Typical specific desirable flavor characteristics

  • Bright, Dry, Sharp, or Snappy— (typical of Central American coffees)
  • Caramelly —candy like or syrupy
  • Chocolaty— an aftertaste similar to unsweetened chocolate or vanilla
  • Delicate— a subtle flavor 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 or citrus
  • Mellow— a round, smooth taste, typically lacking acid
  • Nutty— an aftertaste similar to roasted nuts
  • Spicy— a flavor and aroma reminiscent of spices
  • Sweet— free of harshness
  • Wildness— a gamey flavor which is not usually considered favorable but is typical of Ethiopian coffees
  • Winy— an aftertaste reminiscent of well-matured wine (typical of Kenyan and Yemeni coffees)

Typical specific undesirable flavor characteristics

  • Bitter— perceived on the back of the tongue, usually a result of over roasting
  • Bland— neutral in flavor
  • Carbony— burnt charcoaly overtones
  • Dead— see "flat"
  • Dirty— a mustiness reminiscent of eating dirt
  • Earthy— see "dirty"
  • Flat— lack of acidity, aroma, and aftertaste
  • Grassy— an aroma and flavor reminiscent of freshly cut lawn
  • Harsh— a caustic, clawing, raspy characteristic
  • Muddy— thick and dull
  • Musty— a slight stuffy or moldy smell (not always a negative characteristic when in aged coffees)
  • Rioy— a starchy texture similar to water which pasta has been cooked in.
  • Rough— a sensation on the tongue reminiscent of eating salt
  • Rubbery— an aroma and flavor reminiscent of burnt rubber (typically found only in dry-processed robustas)
  • Soft— see "bland"
  • Sour— tart flavors reminiscent of unripe fruit
  • Thin— lacking acidity, typically a result of under brewing
  • Turpeny— turpentine-like in flavor
  • Watery— a lack of body or viscosity in the mouth
  • Wild— gamey characteristics

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