Though connoisseurs of coffee use language with a vocabulary that would baffle most coffee drinkers, ultimately it is what you like in taste and smell in the coffee experience that is most important. Roasted coffee beans contain about 800 known natural chemicals that are responsible for the taste and flavor of coffee. It is a very complex chemistry and the amounts of these chemicals depend on the type of coffee tree, the soil, the altitude, and the weather. How the cherries are picked, how the cherries are processed, how the beans are roasted, stored, ground, and how the coffee is brewed, is also important, and variations can bring out different flavors and taste in a cup of coffee.

There are experts in the coffee business who are professional tasters. These experts taste samples to decide which green coffees to buy and whether the shipment reflects the sample previously received. They also taste for the purpose of blending coffees so as to bring out certain taste profiles or reduce cost while keeping the quality consistent. These experts use a set terminology to communicate the taste sensations. They follow a standard procedure of sample preparation and tasting. This process is generally referred to as ?cupping?.

There are basically two components of sensory perceptions involved in tasting coffee: Smell, using olfactory receptors and taste using taste-bud receptors. There are four taste senses - namely sweet, sour, salty and bitter - but there are thousands of olfactory sensors, each connected with identifiable aroma. To simplify the communication in expressing the complex experience of coffee tasting, following the basic terminology is useful for anyone interested in coffee.

AromaThis is the smell experienced while the coffee is brewed.
AcidityThis is not a sour taste but a brisk or bright taste. The term is taken from the wine industry. Fruit- like, red-wine like acidity.
BalanceAll characteristics in moderation, no one overpowering the others
BodyOr mouthfeel. This is a sensation of viscosity or heaviness in the mouth particularly around the tongue. It can be light bodied or heavier bodied.
CleanNo undertone of earthiness
ComplexityWhen certain definite sensations coexist in high intensity but are intermingled, it is known to have high complexity.
DepthIntensity of sensation
FragranceThis is the smell sensation of ground coffee. It can range from sweet to pungent and the intensity reveals the freshness of coffee.
PungentSlight bitter tint. Wild, Earthy, Natural: Earthy taste commingled with acidity