Your Guide to Coffee Tasting Notes

by Abby Marasigan 5 min read

Your Guide to Coffee Tasting Notes

Once you understand the language of coffee,you will be able to better appreciate the flavors from each roast and choose the ones that are best suited to your taste.And one of the things you should learn about are the tasting notes.

Simply put, tasting notes describe the aroma, taste and character of coffee.So, before we dive deeper into coffee notes, let’s define what those are.


What Is Taste?

Taste is the sensory experience felt by the tongue. This allows you to sense whether something is salty, sweet, savory, or sour.

What Is Aroma?

Aroma utilizes your sense of smell, allowing you to differentiate between different flavors. The aroma is a key component in a flavor profile.

What Is Flavor?

Flavor is a range of different sensations, combining both taste and aroma.

Tasting Notes

Tasting notes act as reference points, giving us key descriptors about the taste, aroma and flavor that help guide us towards coffees we like. Typically, you will notice 3 descriptive words on your coffee boxes - two being flavor notes and the last one being a character note. Character notes will describe the overall personality of coffee based on the acidity, body and flavor.

Coffee Flavor Notes

When we talk about coffee flavors, we might say it tastes "earthy" or "floral." But there is so much more to it than that. Coffee has hundreds of different compounds that make up its unique flavor profile and aroma.

Some of the most common terms that are used to describe coffee flavors include:

  • Caramel, nutty and chocolatey - the most commonly used flavor words to describe coffees. These are often found in darker roasts, but can also be present in lighter roasts if they have been processed well.
  • Floral and fruity - less common in coffee, but can be found in some lighter roasts. These flavors are more often associated with natural processed coffees that have been dried on patios or raised beds rather than in large warehouses.

How Do You Identify Coffee Flavor Notes?

Well, it involves a unique process known as "cupping".

Coffee cupping is the process of tasting coffee to evaluate its quality and flavor profile. It's sort of like wine tasting, only instead of sniffing and swishing your way through a glass, you're slurping steaming hot cups of joe out of tiny bowls or spoons.

Ideally, this process is used by coffee experts to determine what makes a coffee good or bad, as well as helps them identify and classify different flavors, aromas, and mouthfeel sensations.

They also use the Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel from the Specialty Coffee Association. The flavor wheel is a visual guide to help people identify what they’re tasting in their coffee - it lists all the different flavor descriptors and aromas that experts have identified through cupping, plus it provides some examples of each one.

Do Coffee Vendors Make Up Flavor Notes?

In the coffee industry, there is a lot of discussion about what flavors to expect from various types of coffee beans and roasts.

Some vendors make up their own coffee notes or even use terms that have no real definition in order to market their products.

This can be a bit confusing for someone if you're just starting out drinking coffee. For example, one company may call its medium roast “buttery smooth” while another calls theirs “light and fruity.”

These terms are not standardized, so you can’t be sure what flavors to expect from them.

But there is a way around this problem: Look for coffee roasters that focus on using high-quality beans and offering artisanal blends. These companies will use real flavor descriptions and ingredients in their coffee blends.

Where Do the Flavors Come From if They’re Not Added?

Coffee flavors are based on where they’re grown along with the way they’re processed and roasted. Depending on the region and altitude, coffee can range from nutty and chocolatey to sweet and mellow. Higher altitudes generally grow coffee beans much slower, which gives them the opportunity to develop more rich and complex flavors. Some coffee beans are more dense and do require higher roasting temperatures to achievetheir optimal flavor. When it comes to understanding tasting notes, understanding the origin of the coffee goes a long way.


How Does a Coffee Bean’s Origin Affect Its Flavor?

All good things have an origin story. The foundation in which coffee beans are grown gives it the distinct tastes you love. Everything,from the quality of the soil and water processing methods to the temperatures and overall climate,affects the taste of your coffee. Knowing the location of where your coffee was grown will help you to understand and experience your coffee differently.

The infamous Colombian coffee is one of the highest-selling coffees in the world, and for good reason. Filled with thousands of miles of beautiful mountain ranges, humid climate and steep elevation, it is the perfect setting to grow robust Arabica coffee. Harvest season for farmers in Colombia is typically between March and June, and then again between September and December. Colombia’s close proximity to the equator as well as high altitudes give the soil more nutrients than most regions. Coffee beans roasted from this region result in medium-bodied, higher-acidity coffees. 

HowDoes Roast Affect Flavor?

Coffee roasting is the process of heating raw coffee cherry seeds to altertheiraroma and flavor to create the distinct coffees we know as light, medium and dark roast. This process plays one of the most important roles in flavor. Light roasted coffee is typically placed in lower temperatures and/or placed in for a shorter duration, typically resulting in very bright acidity and flavorful coffee. Medium roasted coffee beans have a rich brown colordue to a longer roasting time. Their flavor tends to be stronger, with more sweetness and the acidity is not as apparent. Darker roast coffees range from dark brown to blackened colors. The coffee beans lose moisture as they are roasted for much longer and at higher temperatures, givingthem an oily surface, a fuller body andabolder taste.

 Angelino's Coffee

Can the Tasting Notes of Coffee Change Based on Different Serving Temperatures?

Much like certain foods and beverages, the tasting notes of coffee do change depending on the temperature it is served at.

When coffee is served hot, the flavor notes are typically more robust and bitter, as the compounds that give coffee its flavor are at their highest concentrations.

But as it cools, the bitterness begins to fade, allowing the more subtle flavors of coffee’s aromas to come through.

So if you want to experience the full range of flavor notes of a coffee, try drinking it at different temperatures.

Angelino’s Coffee Flavors and Notes

At Angelino’s, we take pride in perfecting the science behind each cup, not only bringing you quality coffee but an experience with every sip. 

More often than not, coffee suppliers will combine different coffee beans together before roasting, overridingtheir true flavor and resulting in bland and burnt coffee. In light of this, we make it our mission to keep the coffee bean’s original natural flavor intact when roasting. We take the time to understand and connect with the origin where we source our coffee beans and strategically roast each individual coffee in smaller batches to achieve its optimal flavor.

What's your coffee roasting preference? Light, dark, medium? Join the conversation  @AngelinosCoffee or Facebook

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