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How to taste coffee like a pro

A jasmine aroma with notes of peach, orange and a delicate finish. This type of description can be found on a bag of coffee or on the menu in your favorite coffee bar. Always wanted to learn how to describe the flavors in your cup of coffee? With this article we help you on your way.

To get rid of personal preferences it is important to have a protocol. In the coffee industry, the protocol developed by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) is the most widely used, with guidelines for the testing and assessment of coffees. This protocol and much more can be found on their website.

To start with

Before you start it is good to realize that flavors in the coffee become clearer as the coffee cools down. That's why we let the coffee stand for a while before we start. While the coffee cools we taste several times. There are about ten items to assess. Namely: Fragrance, Taste, After Taste, Acidity, Body, Uniformity, Balance, Consistency, Sweet and Concept Taste. The most important five that Coffee Smugglers focuses on are worked out below.


Aroma is the smell of brewed coffee. Coffee contains more than eight hundred aromatic components, so do not be afraid if you cannot discover the smell of that special type of white rose. A few of the primary categories are: floral, nutty, earthy and spicy.


Acidity is the freshness of a coffee. A coffee without acidity is like an orange without acid; it just does not work. We describe acidity as clear, intense and lively.


Body is how you experience the presence of the coffee in your mouth. Full body, thin or somewhere in between. It is one of the hardest things to judge when you start cupping. Think of whipped cream when we talk about a full body, while skim milk is thin or light body.

After Taste

After taste is coffee jargon for finish. How quickly does the coffee taste disappear from your tongue? If the taste stays long, we call it a long finish. Once the taste has disappeared, we describe it as a short finish. Some coffees have flavors that you will not immediately taste, but that develop in the finish.


Taste is the fusion of components in your mouth. Sweet, sour, salty, bitter and body are flavors that we observe with our tongue. A number of categories we distinguish are: chocolate, fruity and sugars (caramel, honey, etc.).

Remember, there is no right or wrong when tasting coffee. It is about increasing your vocabulary, so that you can communicate what you taste in a coffee. The Flavor Wheel of the SCAA is a good starting point. Eventually you decide whether a coffee is tasty or not.

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