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How To Taste Coffee Like A Professional

If you have experience in tasting coffee, you will be able to put your finger on the differences between roast profiles, origins and flavours. Coffee tasting in ways is similar to wine tasting, there are specialist words and phrases to describe different characteristics and flavours.

If you do not have experience or you aren’t sure what we are talking about when we say “acidity”, “body” or “mouthfeel”, we are going to walk you through how to taste and describe your favourite coffees. After practice you will have the ability to identify the differences between the coffees you taste.

The Main Tasting Terms


Often mistaken for sour, which is a negative feature. Acidity is something that we want in our cup of coffee.

How to describe Acidity?

  • As a black coffee you will notice a slight dryness.

  • Sharp, lively or bright. (We draw a comparison to a dry white wine).


The aroma is how the coffee smells, dry and wet. Some words that often describe the aroma of coffee are:

  • Floral

  • Fruity

  • Nutty

  • Smokey

  • Citrus


Body is sometimes referred to as mouthfeel, it’s simply how it feels in your mouth or on your tongue. Often described with words like; syrupy, thick, heavy or thin and watery. There are subtle differences between medium and full bodied coffees.

Different brewing methods extract a different cup of coffee. The espresso method extracts more oils which will produce a coffee with more body. Whereas a filter coffee will produce a coffee with less body due to the filter removing some of the desirable elements of the coffee.


Flavour is basically the term for the collective of the previous 3 terms. We are looking for the acidity, body and aroma to work together and neither of the 3 is overwhelming. This is also referred to as balance.


A term that is also used in the tasting of wine. Finish is basically the aftertaste. Does the coffee leave an enjoyable taste in your mouth after you have swallowed, or if you’re cupping, after you have spat out the coffee. Cupping is a process often used by coffee roasters to taste their roasted coffee.

The Tongue

As we all know the human body is incredible. The tongue can detect the different flavour features. The diagram below shows what areas of the tongue detect each of the flavour groups. The tip of the tongue identifies sweet. The middle of the tongue, the part closer to the front is the part that determines salty characteristics. Sour flavours are singled out in the area in the middle further back on the tongue. Finally the back of the tongue establishes the bitter features of coffee and food and drink in general.

The Specialty Coffee Association - The Tasting Wheel

When you buy coffee from Forest Espresso, we provide you with tasting notes and flavours to look out for when you are drinking our speciality blends and single origins.

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