Do you remember the first time you had a coffee that didn’t “taste like coffee”? It was like a light clicked on, and coffee started to taste different every time you had a cup, and sometimes it tasted like fruit or chocolate or both, and you started to notice differences between roasts, origins, and brewing methods. It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole of coffee knowledge and tasting once you start.
Folks who are pretty far along in their coffee palate development have a set of common flavor words that they use to describe what they taste in coffee. Just as the wine industry standardized certain taste profiles and categories, the coffee heads did the same. Earlier this year the Specialty Coffee Association of America updated its flavor wheel, releasing a beautiful, colorful representation of the words we use to talk about how coffee tastes.
The general categories of taste are in the center, with flavors getting more specific towards the outer rings. Some of the words may seem strange, and they are. But taste enough coffee, from a variety of origins, processed, roasted, and brewed in a variety of ways, you’ll check all those words off your list. Remember when you thought coffee tasted like coffee?