Sensory Notes of Coffee

Learn to identity the Main Characteristics or Sensory Notes of the Specialty Coffee

Sensory notes of coffee


Sensory notes of coffee

Planting as an influencer on coffee flavor

The planting location has a strong impact on the coffee flavor. Microclimate of the planting region, such as altitude and the minerals in the soil, can influence the coffee plant like all plants.
Depending on the planting region, the plants can be more irrigated by rain, providing larger fruits in size and more water concentration. However with less absorption of natural sugars, more texture and prolonged flavor concentration.
The incidence of rain will also impact the natural maturation and drying processes of the coffee fruits.
The planting altitude influences the incidence of sunlight on the plants. Also will mainly help in the concentration of chemical elements in the beans. High altitudes are considered ideal for the planting of Arabica coffee. This variety is the commercial species that generates most of the specialty coffees that exist in the market.

Within the same property there may be variations in notes, tones, flavors and aromas that influence the flavor of the coffee. Plantations at higher altitudes seek aroma and acidity, while crops in lower areas seek body and texture.
In addition to cultivation, the drying process is another factor in the composition of coffee.

It generates a natural fermentation of all the elements that make up the coffee fruit, such as sugars, proteins and minerals.
Also flavors and aromas that refer to the flavor of citrus fruits, pulp fruits or even red fruits such as blackberries.
The drying process needs to generate movement of the grains, and it also influences the flavor.

How works Arabica Coffee?

  • The recommended minimum altitude is 600 meters.
  • 600 to 1,000 meters – light sweetness flavor.
  • 1,000 to 1,300 meters – flavors with variations between citrus and chocolate, such as vanilla and walnut tones.
  • 1,300 to 1,600 meters – fruity flavors, with hints of lemon and floral or red fruits.

The Roasting influence

Light roast: Usually used for high quality coffees, and highlights the acidity and floral aromas of the coffee. With little heat effect, it is a drink that does not develop strong bitterness, body and continued presence of the drink. It is the roasting point that most conserves the natural coffee oils, and it is the ideal roast for preparing espresso coffees.

Medium roast: It is the most balanced roast. Coffee loses part of its essential oils and some aromas and acidity; but it gains body, generating a more harmonious flavor and bringing a little of the velvety texture of the drink – ideal for preparing brewed coffee.

Dark roast: The high roasting process of coffee tends to erase the acidity of the flavor. A part of the body begins to give way to the chocolate flavor, which is the caramelization of natural sugars. This brings a nice bittersweet point for those who enjoy the strongest drink.

Burnt Roast: Burnt coffee has lost almost all of its acidity, floral and fruity properties. This leaves the drink with a bitter and impoverished taste. It is a process that is normally used to disguise impurities and grain defects.

What sensory characteristics can we analyze in a coffee?

Acidity – It is the part of the flavor that is present on the side of the tongue during the tasting. A quality coffee needs to have elements such as freshness, in addition to being citrus. Sour coffee is not considered good.
Lighter roasts keep the acidity brighter and more intense, as the roasting process can erase it from the grain.

Body – It is the factor that concerns the persistence of the coffee flavor on the palate, prolonging the sensation of the drink. We can understand that coffee with more body is heavier and more vigorous, resulting from more intense roasting; meanwhile, coffee with less body is lighter and more delicate, the result of a lighter roast.
Coffee is a sensory experience as well as a taste; its aroma is extremely important to define the quality of the drink.

What are these Aromas or Sensory Notes of coffee?

Fruity Coffee – refers to the flavor of a ripe and healthy fruit, which usually appears more in coffees with less roast and higher planting altitude of the bean. It can highlight flavors such as raisins, blackberries and even citrus fruits, which mark the coffees with accentuated acidity.

Floral coffee – needs to enhance the aroma of flowers, and the flowers that have the most aroma are fresh flowers. That’s why it’s a coffee that can’t have a very advanced roast – burnt flowers don’t smell like flowers. It can be subtle – like the aroma of coffee flowers or hibiscus or more intense like the aroma of cardamom and spices.

Chocolate coffee –  can be understood as coffee that presents a more velvety, sweet and prolonged texture, similar to the sensation of letting a piece of chocolate melt on the tongue.
It may vary by pulling towards vanilla and chocolate itself, or higher intensities, such as caramel or brown sugar, indicating a more intense roast, which ended up caramelizing the natural sugars.

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