This is a great guide taken from Peet’s Coffee. This is just a tiny amount of the many tasting terms you can use to help you decipher what you are tasting in your coffee.
Acidity is the liveliness in coffee. In everyday conversation, “acidity” may sound unappealing, but in coffee terms it’s actually a highly desirable quality. Not to be confused with the ph level, “palate acidity” is the brightness of flavor — without it, coffee tastes flat and dull. All good coffees have some acidity, but to varying degree. Acidity in our coffees ranges from low (smooth) to high (lively).
A pleasant, distinctive “old” or “cellared” aroma, found in aged coffees.
A sweet berry or citrus flavor.
One of the four basic tastes, it is detected on the back of the tongue. A certain degree of bitterness adds to the fullness of coffee’s flavor; also, it is a prominent aspect of very dark-roasted coffee. It is unpleasant in high degree, especially if due to over-extraction.
Body can be described as “mouthfeel” -quite literally, how a coffee feels in your mouth. It’s an impression of a coffee’s weight on your tongue. The best way to determine the degree of body in a coffee is to take a small sip and let it rest a moment on you tongue. Is it medium? Full? Very full? “Body” in our coffees varies from medium to very full.
Full- bodied with an oily and rich mouthfeel.
A sweet note reminiscent of candy or syrup produced by caramelizing sugar without burning it.
An aromatic roasted or burnt taste, found in very dark-roasted coffees.
A flavor reminiscent of unsweetened chocolate or cocoa powder.
A coffee with a clear and refined texture in the mouth; opposite of dry.
A taste or aroma with many aspects (as opposed to simple).
A coffee with a parching or drying finish. It can also be called astringent.
An aromatic fresh soil or wet earth characteristic.
A coffee with distinct positive quality characteristics such as acidity, body, etc.
A lifeless coffee lacking in any acidity.
Flavors and aromas are as varied in coffee as they are in wine. Naturally, coffee tastes and smells like coffee. But other flavors and scents –such as chocolate, fruit, or flowers– are what make coffee drinking such an enjoyable experience. The next time you have a cup of coffee, take a deep whiff before your first sip. Use your nose to give your mouth a preview, to enhance the flavors on your palate.
Reminiscent of flowers.
A sweet berry or citrus flavor.
A prefix to good characteristics such as acidity, body, or range of flavors, to indicate a strong character.
An aroma reminiscent of grass, dried herbs or grains, or fresh foliage.
A coffee with high palate acidity.
A rounded and balanced coffee, sometimes with acidity and/or sweetness, and without pungent or dry flavors.
A pleasant “old” or “cellared” aroma sometimes found in aged coffees.
Reminiscent of freshly roasted peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, etc.
A strong and penetrating effect on the palate.
An indicator of a coffee with depth and complexity of flavor, full body, and an overall satisfying taste.
A bittersweet smoky or carbony flavor created by dark-roasting coffee. It can sometimes be described as the taste of the roast, rather than an inherent flavor of the bean.
An unpleasant bitter or acrid taste, created by brewing coffee with boiling water.
A naturally occurring aroma of wood smoke, or a synonym for roasty.
A coffee low in palate acidity.
A well-rounded flavor lacking any harshness or acidity; mellow.
An aroma suggesting spices such as cinnamon or allspice; also, a slightly “hot” sensation in the finish.
The ratio of ground coffee to water.
One of the four basic tastes, detected at the tip of the tongue. A mild coffee with sweet fruity, caramelly, or chocolaty flavors.
Sweet, rich, and viscous mouthfeel.
A savory combination of sweetness and sour acidity.
Pleasantly pungent and sour.
A coffee with varying flavors from cup to cup, or odd, gamey, tangy nuances.