Coffee Tasting for Beginners (Fragrance Flavor Body Acidity)

Written by Leanna Serras

Coffee tasting, or cupping, as it is sometimes referred to, is a great way to try new types of coffee and help you to establish a basis for what constitutes an average cup of coffee versus the perfect cup. As with other forms of tastings, like wine tasting, every taster has their own preferences and idea of what the perfect cup tastes like. Regardless of these preferences, there are still basic elements of coffee tasting that hold true. So, before you turn on your coffee maker in the morning, think about what you're drinking on a deeper level, analyzing not just its ability to energize us, but to satisfy us with every sip.


Before we even taste a cup of coffee, good or bad, we smell it. A coffee's fragrance refers to the scent of the grounds before water is introduced. Often rated on a scale from weak to potent, a coffee's perfume shapes our first impressions. A coffee might smell of many things, maybe fruit or nuts. Many agree that the intense fruit fragrance of a fermented coffee is the strongest, most potent on the spectrum. Keep in mind that good coffee is unlikely to smell like a strong cologne, but, rather than a strong, overpowering scent could indicate defects within the blend or bean.


Body, the mouth-feel of a cup of coffee, can be characterized by its heaviness or weight when in the mouth. This is a particularly difficult aspect for beginners to identify. What do you feel from your coffee? Well, it's hot, but it's so much more than that. Think beyond temperature to how it feels in your mouth. The thickness or viscosity of the coffee might vary, as may its physical presence.


Acidity plays a big part in coffee tasting. This sharpness or brightness could be characterized by floral or fruit flavors. The acidity of a coffee is typically the aspect most focused on when assessing the taste. But don't judge it right away; instead, let the coffee cool a bit. And as a beginning coffee taster, try two very different coffees next to each other, like a coffee from Kenya and a coffee from Sumatra; you'll notice quite a difference in acidity.

Flavor (Sweetness)

Sweetness can really elevate a good coffee to a great coffee and is one of the primary characteristics for which any coffee is judged. Sweetness can provide a balance to even the most acidic cup of coffee; making it refreshing and lush. The sweetness of the coffee also allows the other elements of the cup to shine through and creates an easy finish for the taster.

The aftertaste, or finish, of the coffee is just as important as the initial taste. Whereas the first taste of coffee allows the taster to develop their first impressions of the cup and preps the mouth for further tasting, the finish is what really stays with us - it lingers even after that last swallow. An ideal coffee should have a clean, clear finish that holds true to the principle flavors established by its sweetness and acidity.

As with good coffee, designer fragrances can help to boost your mood and your productivity. There are so many different fragrances available from top perfume designers online and once you find your signature scent, as with finding your favorite coffee blend, you'll be hooked.