Latest Posts

  1. What The He — Is Jasmine?

    What The He — Is Jasmine?

    So, what is the taste and smell of jasmine? Yirgacheffes often have the most clear-cut jasmine notes of any coffee, but...

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  2. Bright Coffee

    Bright Coffee

    Here's a few coffees with exciting, snappy, zingy, citrusy, tart, vibrant notes

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  3. Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate...

    Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate...

    A few coffees where chocolate notes take the spotlight.

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  4. Sugar Cupping Part 2 -- Rough outline

    Sugar Cupping Part 2 -- Rough outline

    This is a very educational exercise you can easily try at home.

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  5. Sugar Cupping

    Sugar Cupping

    Sometimes tasting something that isn't coffee can help you learn more about what your coffee tastes like.

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  6. Taste and Price: When Values Shift

    Taste and Price: When Values Shift

    I recently caught glimpse of this and found it very thought-provoking.

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  7. Taste and Price: When Values Shift - DUPLICATE

    Taste and Price: When Values Shift - DUPLICATE

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  8. Podcast:More About Coffee Lexicons

    Podcast:More About Coffee Lexicons

    Cupping and talking about the taste lexicon of coffee with Tom and Chris Schooley

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  9. Podcast: Tasting and Coffee Lexicons

    Podcast: Tasting and Coffee Lexicons

    Describing the basic flavors of coffee.

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  10. Tasting: Cupping vs. Filtered Brewing

    Tasting: Cupping vs. Filtered Brewing

    tasting differences in two roasts, and then tasting the differences in the same coffees via different methods

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  11. There's No Accounting for Taste

    There's No Accounting for Taste

    This has been a very challenging week for cupping. Why? I can't taste.

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  12. Origin of Potato Defect in Rwanda Coffee

    Origin of Potato Defect in Rwanda Coffee

    Last year Aleco and I were traveling in Rwanda, and made a shocking discovery in the Western district of Nyamasheke.

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What is Acidity in Regards to the Taste of Coffee?

What is Acidity in Regards to the Taste of Coffee?

We say time and again that the term "acidity" is used as a descriptor of positive attributes in coffee. Convincing folks that acidity is a positive characteristic and that we're not talking about the kind of acidity that makes a stomach sour is one of the core dilemas of of the purveyor of fine coffees. Acidity, the good kind, is responsible for a number of characteristics in coffee including many of those fruit notes. Knowing a little bit about which specific acids are responsible for certain fruit-like flavors can prove to be really helpful for learning how to identify these flavors, help you identify the coffees that you're really going to be the most happy with, and how to roast and store a coffee in order to promote or diminish specific characteristics. So here's a quick little primer in just a few of the acids found in coffee and what flavors they lead to.

- Citric Acid: Found in high grown arabica coffees, these acids lead to citrus flavors like orange and lemon or sometimes grapefruit in a coffee. Some research shows that citric acid is responsible for most of the acid flavors in coffee.

- Malic Acid: This can provide more of an apple or pear-like flavor to a coffee, sweet and crisp, but can also have stone fruit properties.

- Phosporic Acid: Not an organic acid, and can really push sweetness in a coffee. Tropical fruit flavors like grapefruit or mango are generally attributed to phosporic acid

- Acetic Acid: This is the main component of vinegar, so this can be an off flavor at higher levels. At lower levels in can have a pleasant sharpness or lime-like flavors.

- Tartaric: Tartaric acids are common in grapes and can lead to some winey or grape-like notes in a coffee, but can also be sour in higher levels.

- Quinic Acid: These are the bad guys, and these are indeed responsible for the sour stomach. Quinic acids increase in production the more and more the coffee degrades. Dark roasted coffees are hight in this while low in other flavor contributing acids, and also stale coffees, either coffees that were roasted a good while ago or that were brewed a long time ago (especially if left on a hot plate).

- Chlorogenic Acid: Responsible for a good deal of percieved acidity in the cup. For a long time it was simply said that roast level was responsible for the breaking down of some of these acids, but more accurately it is exposure time to the heat during the roasting. Prolonged exposure time can result in a reduced perception of acidity even if the final roast level is fairly light.