Understanding Flavor

It's all about the flavor at Goodson Bros. Our expert roasters know just how to roast and blend the right flavors for the perfect cup of coffee.

Coffee comes in unlimited numbers of flavors, from sweet to acidic, from mild to intense. Unblended coffees, called "straights," are those that come from a single origin, such as Sumatra or Kenya. These have strong, distinctive flavors, characteristic of their region of growth. For example, coffees grown in the Americas tend to have mild, clean, bright flavors, while Pacific coffees are savory and earthy. African and Arabian coffees have more exotic flavor notes, such as wine and fruit.

These "straight" flavors are also used for blending, a process in which coffees are mixed to create flavors, aromas and textures that can not be found in a single coffee.

The next time you drink a cup, think about these concepts to see what you can identify in your coffee.

Acidity: In coffee this is a positive term, also called "brightness," that indicates a lively quality, one that cleanses the palate. Usually found in high altitude coffees.

Body: Refers to how light or heavy the coffee feels on your tongue. Indonesian coffees are usually full-bodied, while coffees from the Americas are light or medium.

Flavor: This is the total picture, including aroma, body and level of brightness. Specific flavors can include fruit, nut, chocolate and spices.

Aroma: As you would think, this means the fragrance of the coffee. Coffee professionals use words like floral, malt, caramel, rich, round and, in dark roasts, bittersweet and charred.

Goodson Bros. Good Taste Guide

If you want to taste coffee like a pro, follow these steps with your friends. It's a process called "cupping" that allows you to sample several coffees.


For each coffee you plan to taste, measure one tablespoon of coffee per eight to ten ounces of water. When the coffee finishes brewing, place it on a heat-proof surface to cool. Use a kitchen thermometer to see when the coffee reaches 150 degrees. This is the best temperature for tasting.


You will need four-ounce cups or bouillon bowls, one per person for coffee. (Four people + six coffees = 24 cups and 24 spoons). Pour the coffee into the cups, to the same level in each cup. Each person should have pen and paper to write down observations.

Wake up and smell the coffee

Smell the coffee first. Note anything you notice about the aroma.

Then dip the spoon into the coffee and scoop it away from you. Slurp the coffee from the spoon into your mouth (yes, it is permissible to make noise); make notes about the flavor.

To cleanse your palate between cups, eat a plain, unsalted cracker and sip distilled water.

What to look for

Flavor: What does it taste like?

Strength: How intense is it?

Body: How thick does it feel on your tongue?

Acidity: Does it taste fruity, bright or snappy?


Don't discuss any flavors until everyone has finished tasting the coffee. That way you won't influence each other. Everyone has different flavor preferences, so remember there is no right or wrong about what is best. Remember to have fun!





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