Our taste receptors, located on the tongue, pick up five basic tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, acidic, and umami. Most of the work in flavour identification is done by the olfactory system. A human nose has around 400 types of scent receptors and can detect thousands of unique smells.
Flavour is the combination of taste, aroma and mouthfeel. Some flavour descriptors are: earthy, smoky, piney, woodsy, citrus, vegetal, etc. The climate, elevation, soil, and farming/processing techniques all contribute to particular coffee flavors. Even the brew method can hide or exaggerate the different characters such as texture, complexity or balance. Additionally, flavour is also influenced by emotional perception, visual appearance, social context, and personal chemistry.
Once the green coffee beans have arrived at the roasting facility, they have to be properly roasted, packaged, and labeled. Before entering production, the roaster first tests several sample batches to fine-tune the desired roasting profile. Roasting green coffee transforms starches into sugars, lowers acidity and develops its aromatic oils. Thru Cupping the roaster evaluates the beans by various categories, such as sight, smell and taste. A balanced coffee incorporates harmoniously the elements of Flavour, Acidity, Body and Aftertaste, and although it may be complex, does not have any overwhelming characteristics.
The sense of weight, thickness, heaviness or richness, associated with the texture or the weight in the mouth. Sensations: light, crisp, thin, medium, full, rich, strong, syrupy.
The sensation of pleasant brightness, sharpness, vigorous, tartness, tangy, but never sour or bitter. It contributes to a coffee's liveliness, sweetness, fruity and floral character. Range: intense or mild, round or edgy, elegant or wild.
The intensity, quality and complexity of the coffee when slurped into the mouth vigorously, so as to involve the entire palate.
The smell produced by hot, freshly brewed coffee. For example complex, smoky, nutty, herbal, or fruity.
The intensity of sugariness present when swooshing the coffee in the mouth (never sour or astringent). For example chocolaty, fruity, caramelly.
The intensity and the length of the positive flavour after the coffee has been tasted and spit out. May be quick or lingering; dry, light, crisp, or sweet and heavy.
The coffee grading depends on the country and region. While some regions grade based on the size and imperfections of the green coffee bean, other places take into account criteria such as varietal, altitude, region, processing method, cupping notes, etc.
There is no international standardization, but usually coffee is graded by passing the beans thru metal screens with round holes. For example, if a coffee passes through a size 18 screen (18/64 inches) but not thru a size 16 screen (16/64" wide), it’s graded as size 18 (a.k.a. "Superior", "Supremo" or "AA"). A grade 16 is known as "Excelso" or "AB", while a grade 14 is a "C". Anything graded 12 or less are of inferior quality.
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