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Glossary of Coffee Terminology: Coffee Descriptors

Coffee Descriptors (Words to Describe Coffee Flavors)

Coffee Glossary Table of Contents

Some of the many ways to describe coffee characteristics are listed below. What are we missing?

  • Aroma: Also known as Bouquet, used to describe the scent of the coffee.
  • Berry-like: The coffee has hints of berries in its aroma.
  • Bitter:  Taste that is affected by how the coffee beans are prepared through the roasting
  • Bland: Flavor of the coffee comes out flat. 
  • Body: Refers to how the coffee feels with the tongue.
  • Bright: Acidity flavor of the coffee. 
  • Briny: Flavor of saltiness caused by exposure to heat.
  • Burnt: Coffee tasting charred due to different factors like the roasting.
  • Caramelly: Coffee with a candy-like taste. Has to do with roasting it properly. 
  • Chocolatey: Coffee with a chocolate flavor, usually found in beans from Central America.
  • Citrus: Fruity and citrusy aroma in the coffee. 
  • Dirty: Muddy taste caused by factors like roasting, or where it was harvested.
  • Earthy: Coffee with hints of earthiness if dried on earth rather than concrete.
  • Exotic: When coffee contains notes that are more berry-like and floral.
  • Floral: Aroma that has a flowery note to it.
  • Fragrant: How coffee smells before it’s brewed.
  • Fruity: Coffee with a hint of fruit in its taste, smell, or both.
  • Herby: Coffee aroma with a leafy or grassy scent
  • Malty: Aroma with grain-like scents such as toast, corn, malt, bread, etc
  • Nutty: Aroma of nuts in the coffee
  • Sharp: Taste that is salty and acidic
  • Smokey: Taste of slight bitterness and ashiness. 
  • Sour: Tartness, flavor deriving from acidity
  • Spicy: Aroma and taste of coffee that contains notes and hints of spices
  • Stale: Coffee that comes out flat-tasting after being left out.
  • Sweet: Palatable coffee free of bitter flavors
  • Tart: Coffee with taste that’s pleasantly sour
  • Tangy: A combination of sweet and sour that you mostly feel along the sides of the tongue
  • Tone: Physical appearance and color of the coffee
  • Vanilla-like: Coffee with an aroma of vanilla
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