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Major Characteristics in Coffee
ginny
Coffee cupping, or coffee tasting, is the practice of observing the tastes and aromas of brewed coffee. It is a professional practice but can be done informally by anyone or by professionals known as Master Tasters. A standard coffee cupping procedure involves deeply sniffing the coffee, then loudly slurping the coffee so it spreads to the back of the tongue. The coffee taster attempts to measure aspects of the coffee's taste, specifically the body (the texture or mouthfeel, such as oiliness),sweetness (the perceived sweetness at the sides of the tongue, acidity (a sharp and tangy feeling at the tip of the tongue, like when biting into an orange), flavour (the characters in the cup), and aftertaste. Since coffee beans embody telltale flavours from the region where they were grown, cuppers may attempt to predict the coffee's origin.

Aromas

Animal-like - This odour descriptor is somewhat reminiscent of the smell of animals. It is not a fragrant aroma like musk but has the characteristic odour of wet fur, sweat, leather, hides or urine. It is not necessarily considered as a negative attribute but is generally used to describe strong notes.

Ashy
- This odour descriptor is similar to that of an ashtray, the odour of smokers' fingers or the smell one gets when cleaning out a fireplace. It is not used as a negative attribute. Generally speaking this descriptor is used by the tasters to indicate the degree of roast.

Burnt/Smoky - This odour and flavour descriptor is similar to that found in burnt food. The odour is associated with smoke produced when burning wood. This descriptor is frequently used to indicate the degree of roast commonly found by tasters in dark-roasted or oven-roasted coffees.

Chemical/Medicinal
- This odour descriptor is reminiscent of chemicals, medicines and the smell of hospitals. This term is used to describe coffees having aromas such as rio flavour, chemical residues or highly aromatic coffees which produce large amounts of volatiles.

Chocolate-like - This aroma descriptor is reminiscent of the aroma and flavour of cocoa powder and chocolate (including dark chocolate and milk chocolate). It is an aroma that is sometimes referred to as sweet.

Caramel - This aroma descriptor is reminiscent of the odour and flavour produced when caramelizing sugar without burning it. Tasters should be cautioned not to use this attribute to describe a burning note.

Cereal/Malty/Toast-like - This descriptor includes aromas characteristic of cereal, malt, and toast. It includes scents such as the aroma and flavour of uncooked or roasted grain (including roasted corn, barley or wheat), malt extract and the aroma and flavour of freshly baked bread and freshly made toast. This descriptor has a common denominator, a grain-type aroma. The aromas in this descriptor were grouped together since tasters used these terms interchangeably when evaluating standards of each one.

Earthy - The characteristic odour of fresh, wet soil or humus. Sometimes associated with moulds and reminiscent of raw potato flavour, a common flavournote in coffees from Asia.

Floral - This aroma descriptor is similar to the fragrance of flowers. It is associated with the slight scent of different types of flowers including honeysuckle, jasmine, dandelion and nettles. It is mainly found when an intense fruity or green aroma is perceived but rarely found having a high intensity by itself.

Fruity/Citrus - This aroma is reminiscent of the odour and taste of fruit. The natural aroma of berries is highly associated with this attribute. The perception of high acidity in some coffees is correlated with the citrus characteristic. Tasters should be cautioned not to use this attribute to describe the aroma of unripe or overripe fruit.

Grassy/Green/Herbal
- This aroma descriptor includes three terms which are associated with odours reminiscent of a freshly-mown lawn, fresh green grass or herbs, green foliage, green beans or unripe fruit.

Nutty - This aroma is reminiscent of the odour and flavour of fresh nuts (distinct from rancid nuts) and not of bitter almonds.

Rancid/Rotten - This aroma descriptor includes two terms which are associated with odours reminiscent of rancidification and oxidation of several products. Rancid as the main indicator of fat oxidation mainly refers to rancid nuts and rotten is used as an indicator of deteriorated vegetables or non-oily products. Tasters should be cautioned not to apply these descriptors to coffees that have strong notes but no signs of deterioration.

Rubber-like - This odour descriptor is characteristic of the smell of hot tyres, rubber bands and rubber stoppers. It is not considered a negative attribute but has a characteristic strong note highly recognisable in some coffees.

Spicy - This aroma descriptor is typical of the odour of sweet spices such as cloves, cinnamon and allspice. Tasters are cautioned not to use this term to describe the aroma of savoury spices such as pepper, oregano and Indian spices.

Tobacco - This aroma descriptor is reminiscent of the odour and taste of tobacco but should not be used for burnt tobacco.

Winey
- This terms is used to describe the combined sensation of smell, taste and mouthfeel experiences when drinking wine. It is generally perceived when a strong acidic or fruity note is found. Tasters should be cautioned not to apply this term to a sour or fermented flavour.

Woody
- This aroma descriptor is reminiscent of the smell of dry wood, an oak barrel, dead wood or cardboard paper.

Taste

Acidity - A basic taste characterised by the solution of an organic acid. A desirable sharp and pleasing taste particularly strong with certain origins as opposed to an over-fermented sour taste.

Bitterness - A primary taste characterized by the solution of caffeine, quinine and certain other alkaloids. This taste is considered desirable up to a certain level and is affected by the degree of roast brewing procedures.

Sweetness - This is a basic taste descriptor characterised by solutions of sucrose or fructose which are commonly associated with sweet aroma descriptors such as fruity, chocolate and caramel. It is generally used for describing coffees which are free from off-flavours.

Saltiness - A primary taste characterised by a solution of sodium chloride or other salts.

Sourness - This basic taste descriptor refers to an excessively sharp, biting and unpleasant flavour (such as vinegar or acetic acid). It is sometimes associated with the aroma of fermented coffee. Tasters should be cautious not to confuse this term with acidity which is generally considered a pleasant and desirable taste in coffee.

Mouthfeel

Body - This attribute descriptor is used to describe the physical properties of the beverage. A strong but pleasant full mouthfeel characteristic as opposed to being thin.
To an amateur coffee taster, body can be compared to drinking milk. A heavy body is comparable to whole milk while a light body can be comparable to skim milk.

Astringency - The astringent attribute is characteristic of an after-taste sensation consistent with a dry feeling in the mouth, undesirable in coffee.
Edited by ginny on 03/23/2009 8:03 AM
 
John Despres
ROCK ON!!!

Awesome start, Ginny. Lots of great work. I may have something to add in a bit.

John
Respect the bean.
John Despres
Fresh Roast 8, Gene Cafe, JYTT 1k, Quest M3, Mazzer Mini, Technivorm, various size presses and many more brewers.
 
www.sceneitallproductions.com
John Despres
We can add this as a guide to what really happens. I posted it in the Cupping 101 thread.

Take a listen to this. Liam Kenna from Stumptown Coffee and Lynn Rosetta Casper cup a few coffees on her program, The Splendid Table.

This was still very helpful and informative.

http://splendidta...01_24.html

If you want to listen on line, you need Real Audio. Or you can download it as an mp3 file. The cupping begins at 12:30.
Respect the bean.
John Despres
Fresh Roast 8, Gene Cafe, JYTT 1k, Quest M3, Mazzer Mini, Technivorm, various size presses and many more brewers.
 
www.sceneitallproductions.com
BoldJava
I would suggest pulling in CHAD's olfactory question/thread right after your first, intro post Ginny.

http://forum.home...ad_id=1113

Dave
Edited by BoldJava on 03/23/2009 12:32 AM
http://sidewalkmy...
Dave Borton
Milwaukee, WI
 
http://sidewalkmystic.com
BoldJava
Finally, as Brett suggested, introduce those posts you have developed Ginny. Thanks.

The threads I referenced lend themselves to your intro. Let's see if the cupping forum gains traction. Let the posts evolve naturally. If they do, great. We will be better for it. If they don't, no big deal. We have some very active forums and some relatively inactive ones.

I just really appreciate the idea of keeping cupping and our evals of coffees in one place because I feel it is that distinct and an integral but underdeveloped aspect. Great place to ask questions and learn.

If nothing else, it will be a place to help me keep some discipline with my cupping. <grins> I would like to continue with the aspect of roasting to 3 levels and learning distinctions/nuances.

Dave
Edited by BoldJava on 03/23/2009 12:42 AM
http://sidewalkmy...
Dave Borton
Milwaukee, WI
 
http://sidewalkmystic.com
seedlings
Great intro thread, Ginny.

My questions about cupping are like these: How am I supposed to know what "black currant" tastes like? Or, what if one cupper can tell the difference between cherry and black cherry, and another one cant? Suppose one cupper scores tangerine higher because he likes it better?

All of the specifics seem so subjective. How do I know I'm right or wrong? What's the standard, and who says it's the standard? For example, describe what a "perfect" acidity or mouthfeel score tastes like.

I like the more casual "hey, this is what I taste in the coffee" because it's what I can relate to.

CHAD
Edited by seedlings on 03/23/2009 8:09 AM
Roaster: CoffeeAir II 2# DIY air roaster
Grinder: Vintage Grindmaster 500
Brewers: Vintage Cory DCU DCL, Aeropress, Press, Osaka Titanium pourover
 
BoldJava
Just a pic for chits and giggles. Cuppers, my foot...

http://www.herald...1/-1/RSS01

B|Java
http://sidewalkmy...
Dave Borton
Milwaukee, WI
 
http://sidewalkmystic.com
John Despres
Very cool, B|Java! Spreadin' the love, that's what I call it.

John
Respect the bean.
John Despres
Fresh Roast 8, Gene Cafe, JYTT 1k, Quest M3, Mazzer Mini, Technivorm, various size presses and many more brewers.
 
www.sceneitallproductions.com
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