Skip to Content

20 of the Best Words to Describe Coffee Like a Professional Taster

20 of the Best Words to Describe Coffee Like a Professional Taster

If you start your day with coffee on a regular basis, then you know that it doesn’t taste the same everywhere you go. Whether you brew your own coffee, get it from a cafe on your way to work, or you get coffee from the breakroom at work, there are different words to describe coffee from each place.

Professional coffee tasters have an expansive coffee vocabulary, and experts have many words to describe this essential beverage; for this reason, we have decided to share some of these words with you.

These words to describe coffee will help you express your experience with coffee like a professional, so let’s take a look:


8 words to describe coffee aroma

Coffee usually has a very noticeable aroma, and it is one of the first things that you will notice before tasting the coffee. Here are eight of the best words to describe coffee aroma:

Caramelly coffees fall under the sugar-browning category of coffee aromas. It is good to use when the coffee smells kind of like, or a lot like, caramel.
If you’ve never smelt caramel, it has a very sweet smell like candy or syrup. Here is one way that you can describe it:


E.g. “My favorite part of the day is going to Brown’s Coffee House so that I can inhale all of the sweet smells. My favorite smell is the caramelly coffee.”


chocolate shake beside ice cream crepe on the table
Photo by Melanie Vorster on reshot


02 Chocolaty
Chocolaty coffee is also found under the sugar-browning category of coffee aromas. The result is a chocolate-like amora.
The smell isn’t necessarily like the chocolate bars that you can buy on the shelf. In fact, the coffee can smell like unsweetened chocolate, cocoa, or even vanilla.


E.g. “Nothing like a strong, chocolaty-smelling coffee to open your senses in the morning.”


Coffee aromas can also be enzymatic, meaning they are herbal, fruity, or flowery. A citrus coffee will smell like citrus fruits, such as lemon or fresh apples.


E.g. “This citrus brew smells like a bowl of freshly-picked lemons.”


orange and lemon fruits inside a wicker basket

Photo by Monika Grabkowska on unsplash


Fragrant coffees fall under the enzymatic category. A fragrant coffee is one that smells a bit like coriander seeds, cardamom, or caraway.
If you think your coffee is fragrant, here’s one way that you can state it:


E.g. “I like the fragrant aroma from this brew. It reminds me of my mother’s spice cupboard.”


Fruity coffee aromas also fall under the enzymatic category. However, this doesn’t mean the coffee smells like tulips or lavender.
Fruity coffees typically smell like coffee blossoms or tea rose. Here’s how you can say it:


E.g. “Where did you buy that coffee? Its fruity aroma is making me crave a cup.”


photo of woman holding pink flower covering eyes

Photo by Jc Laurio under pexels license


Nutty coffee falls under the sugar-browning category, and it will smell like roasted peanuts or walnut. It is somewhat earthy and hard to ignore.


E.g. “The light, nutty aroma of this cup of coffee is starting to make me salivate!”


nuts in white round bowl on top of ceramic table

Photo by David Disponett under pexels license


Resinous coffees fall under the dry distillation category. These tend to smell like terpenes or like some medicines.
With these brews, you can look forward to smelling pine or black-currant aromas, or you may even smell an odor camphoric or Cineolic.


E.g. “I wasn’t sold on this brew because of the resinous aroma, but I found it quite delightful after a few sips.”


Spicy coffee also falls under the dry distillation category. It can be warming like pepper, cedar, or pungent. It can smell like clove or thyme.
This type of coffee is usually enjoyed by people who have a varied palate. You can show off your experience by saying something like this:


E.g. “The spicy aroma of this brew takes me back to the holidays spent with my grandparents at their cabin in the woods.”



6 words to describe coffee acidity

When someone refers to the acidity of coffee, they aren’t going to tell you about its pH level. In the case of a professional, acidity refers to how the coffee feels and tastes on the tongue.
The acidity of coffee can be hard to define, but you can think of it as the way the coffee feels on your tongue or its sharpness. If you prefer, we can also discuss a coffee’s harmony.
Here are six of the best words to describe coffee acidity.

A bright acidity is one that is bold and well pronounced, which means you can taste all of the flavors very clearly.
This generally refers to citrus, nutty, fruity, or chocolaty tastes that can light up the taste buds and feel distinct upon sipping.


E.g. “I love the acidity of this coffee. The pop of lemons with each sip is well-appreciated.”


coffee manual hand dripped person pouring water
Photo by Jonathan Borba under pexels license


Coffee acidity may be described as dull when it is flat, boring, or mellow. It isn’t very interesting, and it is not very vibrant.
This does not mean that the coffee is bad; it simply means that it doesn’t do much for your taste buds.


E.g. “This brew is a bit dull. May I suggest using bottled water or adding less milk next time?”


portrait business window cafe coffee woman at the cafe blond hair drinking coffee

Photo by Dasha Pats on reshot


A coffee with a nippy acidity is high acidity; this means the coffee is sharp, yet the taste does not linger on the tongue for a long time. It is usually a secondary taste.


E.g. “Its nippy acidity and tangy aroma give this brew the edge over the bright, earthy brew that we had earlier.”


Coffee with piquant acidity is said to be usually sharp; it has a pleasant or appetizing taste. These types of coffees are slightly tart or biting upon sipping.


E.g. “The acidity of this coffee is piquant. Perhaps, it was grown at a high altitude.”



Sour acidity in coffee generally means the brew was poor, and it has an unpleasant bitter or pungent taste. It is good to use when you don’t want to simply say that the coffee tastes “bad.”


E.g. “I’m happy you took the time to brew me a cup of coffee, but the acidity is somewhat sour and hard to swallow.”


woman biting lemon fruit teeth hand
Photo by engin akyurt on unsplash


15 Sparkling
Coffee with sparkling acidity dances on the tongue quickly before it disappears. It is light, yet the flavors and textures are well-defined.


E.g. “On the days I stay with her, the sparkling acidity of my sister’s favorite coffee gives me a jolt in the morning.”


6 words to describe coffee body/taste

The body of the coffee refers to the weight or thickness of the coffee on your tongue. The taste, on the other hand, refers to the flavor or the impression that the coffee leaves on your tongue.
You can take a sip and think about it for a second; you can have a look at these words to describe coffee body/taste to see which word best fits the brew that you have:

Bitter is one of the four basic flavors, and it can apply to a number of experiences with coffee. Bitter coffee will taste harsh or pungent.
It may be alkaline or caustic; it can be unpleasant for some people, but it can also be pungent, somewhat creosol, or even phenolic.


E.g. “I’m trying to cut back on sugar, but I don’t think I will ever get used to bitter-tasting coffee.”


brass colored cup filled with ice and mint beverage

Photo by Adam Jaime on unsplash


Bland is a good word to use if your coffee is somewhat flavorless; this is perhaps because the beans to water ratio was off, or there was too much milk added to the mix; this can easily drown out the flavor of the coffee bean.
This type of coffee is usually not enjoyable, and if you need a new brew from your waiter, you can say something like this:


E.g. “Excuse me, but this brew is on the bland side. Could I have another cup, perhaps with some sugar too?”


Full is a word that is used to describe the body of your coffee. This means it has a heavier texture than other coffees that you have tried.
This is, of course, is relative, and you will have to try a few different coffees to determine whether it is full-bodied or not. When you have it, you can relay your experience by saying something like this:


E.g. “I think you will like the Midnight Brew more than the Morning Burst. The body of the coffee is full, and it’s much richer.”



Coffee may also have a salty taste. It is not usually at the fore-front or very strong, but it can be noticeable.
It may be astringent, rough, and even sharp.


E.g. “I’m not a fan of salty brews. I can’t find it in myself to appreciate the taste.”


close up photo of himalayan salt on wooden pan
Photo by monicore under pexels license


Sweet coffees are what many people prefer because it is easier on the palate. A sweet coffee may also be described as mellow, mild, or delicate on the tongue.


E.g. “Since it’s your first time here, I think you should order the Farmer’s Breakfast brew. It doesn’t have the usual bitter taste of coffee; it’s actually somewhat sweet.”


four pieces donuts on plate with blue linen below

Photo by Heather Ford on unsplash


Thin is one of the words to describe coffee body. Again, the body is relative, so you need to taste a few to determine this.
Coffee with a thin body is light, has high-water content, and has very little texture; it also has very little fat-content. Here’s how you can talk about your thin-bodied coffee:


E.g. “For coffee beans with such rich flavor, I was disappointed at how thin my brew came out.”



In no time, you’ll be able to use words to describe coffee like a real professional! Now that you have the definitions, it’s time to taste a few coffees and apply all your new knowledge.