Coffee Vocabulary


The taste of a coffee should not be confused with the strength of the brew. Generally speaking, any coffee can be brewed strong, making flavor the primary way that coffees are distinguished. Frequently, lightly roasted coffees are brewed too weak and tend to be perceived as thin. Consider trying lightly roasted coffees without cream or sugar, and you might be pleasantly surprised.

The following is a list of recognized terms and their meanings that are widely used in the coffee trade:

Acidy: A favorable expression that suggests a pleasant sparkle or tang often attributed to the altitude at which the coffees are grown. Typically, as coffees are roasted longer, acidity and many of the other favorable flavor components that are found in specialty coffees are lost. Generally speaking, darker roasts require the use of cream or sugar to cover up the acrid flavors. Acrid flavors are typically bitter and unpleasant and are sometimes considered the opposite of acidic.

Winey: You may find that some coffees leave your mouth feeling tight, similar to a dry red wine. This can be overwhelming in some coffees, but often is attributed to a "clean" taste in our coffee descriptions. Often, winey coffees are interesting because they add a tactile dimension to the taste experience.

Body: A coffee with full body will be robust and round in the mouth. Often, full-bodied coffees don’t have a singular prominent flavor, but rather a heaviness in the mouth is perceived after swallowing. Body is actually microparticles of insoluble coffee fiber suspended in water. The amount and kind of insolubles vary from one coffee to another. Body is also known as mouthfeel.

What other tastes have you found in coffee?