10 Nov Come to your senses about your coffee

What does your coffee actually taste like? Let’s take a walk through the nuances, language and characteristics of coffee.

Does it have a vibrant mouth feel or scents of mandarin peel and spicy cinnamon notes?

Does it have a rich silky body and buttery cacao flavours?

The taste profile of each cup is made up of flavour, aroma, acidity, body and aftertaste.

The tongue has five different receptors for sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami (savoury) and coffee contains 800 various aromatic compounds.

So, it is no wonder describing your coffee may be a little harder than you first thought.

Earlier this year, the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel was updated for the first time in its 21 year history.

It was a collaboration between the Specialty Coffee Association of America, World Coffee Research and the coffee community.

This kaleidoscopic, iconic piece of research has become an indispensable tool for describing and analysing coffee.



SCAA Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel


Grab a coffee, have a look at the wheel and give it a go. If you need further help, visit the link below.

The team at Byron Bay Coffee Company have also put together a list to help get you started.

It is just the tip of the iceberg or in the world of coffee we like to call it the crema of the espresso.


Aroma: the smell or fragrance of the coffee. Sensed nasally (smell received via the nose) or retronasally (smell introduced through the mouth)

Acidity: the bright and pleasant tanginess in the mouth. Sharp at the front and dry at the back. Likened to the dryness in white wine

Body: the feel and texture, weight or thickness and sensation on your tongue or the roof of your mouth. Termed ‘mouth feel

Flavour: the combination of the senses of taste and smell including acidity, body and aftertaste

Aftertaste: the taste released after swallowing that lingers in your mouth. Also known as ‘finish

Balance: complex without one element overwhelming another

Bouquet: the aromatic profile of freshly ground coffee

Complexity: the many layers of tastes and flavours in the coffee including balance and intensity

Fresh: describes recently harvested or roasted coffee with a pleasing aroma

Smooth: describes a well balanced, low acidic coffee with a pleasant mouth feel. Also known as ‘rounded

Rich: describes a full bodied coffee with complex flavours

Buttery: describes an aroma or flavour similar to fresh butter with an oily texture

Chocolaty: an aromatic sensation or flavour of unsweetened chocolate, cocoa or vanilla

Bitter: often used to describe a harsh or unpleasant taste at the back of the tongue. A slight bitterness in coffee contributes to the balance of the coffee.

Earthy: a mustiness reminiscent of fresh earth or wet soil

Grassy: an aromatic sensation or flavour of freshly mown grass or pungent herbs. Also known as ‘herbal’ or ‘haylike

Fruity: an aromatic sensation or flavour of fruit particularly citrus or berry

Floral: a sweet aromatic sensation or flavour of flowers such as rose, jasmine or chamomile

Nutty: an aromatic or flavour sensation of roasted nuts such as almond or hazelnut

Spicy: an aromatic sensation or flavour of spice such as pepper, cinnamon or clove


This may just help you knock some sense into your next cup of coffee.


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