Tasting Coffee
coffee cupping

Tasting Coffee

Have you ever wondered about how to do for tasting coffee and actually describe that taste? If you are actually getting interested in more than just “drinking coffee” while reading your newspaper or to wake up, then you took the first step towards appreciating more the deliciousness in your cup.

coffee cupping
coffee cupping

The Process of tasting

The first thing to know about the process is where it takes place: both from the nose and from the mouth.

The tongue: this is where the first step is made, where the tastes of acidity, sweetness, bitterness, saltiness and savouriness are initially detected.

The nose: you may be surprised, but that’s where the flavours such as caramel, chocolate, berries and any others that can be felt in the coffee are detected.

Professional tasters are capable of separating those two experiences, while people usually tend to have them intertwine, making it harder to detect the different tastes and flavours properly.

What are the tasting traits?

This question may seem futile, but every time you may go buy your coffee and look a bit more into it, you will see that the points that are always taken into account are as follow:

  • Sweetness: one thing goes without saying, the more the better. This trait is always very desirable for coffee
  • Acidity: how acidic is a coffee and how pleasant is it? This will decide whether the coffee is considered more sour or crisp and juicy.
  • Mouthfeel: is it tending more towards light and delicate or rich and creamy? There is no good or bad, as this will work alongside all the other traits to define the quality of the coffee.
  • Balance: This is a very simple concept and yet probably the most difficult feature to define. How harmonious is the coffee? Are the flavours mixing with each other well? Is there any dominant feature? Those are the questions this trait works toward answering.
  • Flavour: This is for describing what the flavours are as well as how the tasters are finding them, making it quite a subjective trait to define.

The coffee industry has a standardised way of tasting coffee with the cupping practice, allowing to avoid any impact on the coffee from the brewing process and making the tasting as objective as possible, using fixed amounts of water and beans, while using a single brewing process. Professional coffee tasters are likely to use grading sheets as the one below

coffee grading
coffee grading sheet


If you find that interesting, then there are ways for you to taste coffee at home and train! All you need is two different types of coffee and -ideally- a French press!

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