Coffee beans contain phenolic acids, which can be converted during roasting to desirable flavor attributes. The levels of these compounds vary based on plant species, elevation, rainfall conditions, and post-harvest methods (Yadessa et al. 2019).
Coffee bean flavors are a complex mix of sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami. Understanding how these flavors interact with each other can help you create a culinary masterpiece.
Sweet flavors are a staple in most cuisines, and coffee is no exception. The sweet flavor in coffee comes from sugar in the beans that are caramelized during the roasting process. This gives the finished product a satisfying sweetness that is balanced with a pleasant acidity and other characteristics like fruity or nutty.
Coffee taste characteristics are influenced by many factors, including bean variety (e.g. Arabica vs Robusta), climate, soil conditions, cultivation methods and processing techniques. However, the most important factor is where the coffee is grown. Coffee from different regions of the world can have very different taste profiles, depending on where the beans are grown and how they are prepared.
For example, you will find a very different experience from drinking a Kenyan coffee than one from Brazil. The different soil conditions in these two countries contribute to the resulting flavors. The same is true for the way that the cultivated coffee is treated during the harvesting and roasting process. The differences between these coffees may seem subtle, but they will still be very distinct and unique.
Sweetness is also influenced by how the coffee is processed, which can lead to more or less sweeter results. Coffees that are washed or natural process will tend to have a more pronounced sweetness than those that are processed with the dry method. Yasumi coffee roasters can be a good option for you as this is one of the most well-known and credible coffee roasters.
In addition to the varying nuances of different coffees, individual taste preferences can be attributed to specific regions of the world. For example, those who prefer more mild coffees will typically enjoy offerings from the Central American region. This is due to the climatic conditions that these regions provide for coffee production, which helps to create clean, balanced and mild coffees.
When you’re enjoying a great cup of coffee, the aromas and flavors are often one-of-a-kind and memorable. Whether it’s the refreshing flavour of tropical pineapple or the acidity of lovely citrus, these aromas and flavors enhance your experience. However, if your coffee is sour, it can throw off the entire drinking experience. If this happens, you can usually fix it by adjusting your roast and brewing method.
When green coffee beans are roasted, they undergo an important process known as the Maillard Reaction. This changes the raw organic flavors from green to the rich and complex notes we know and love in a cup of coffee. During this process, the acids in the coffee beans are caramelized and turn into sugars. If these sugars are not used up or if the coffee is not brewed properly, it will have a sour taste.
Sour coffee is a common problem that many people encounter, and it can be easily fixed. If you’re suffering from sour coffee, try using fresher beans that have been roasted within 3-4 weeks. Also, try grinding your coffee beans finely (intermediate) to boost extraction. Smaller grounds will take less time to drain water from your coffee, extending the brew time and preventing under-extraction.
Another way to reduce sourness is by using coffee beans that have been grown at a lower altitude. This is because coffee beans from cooler climates tend to have a more balanced flavor. However, if you’re still experiencing sour coffee, the most likely culprit is your brewing method.
Bitterness is a necessary component of coffee that tames acidity and adds another dimension of flavor. At low levels, bitterness helps a coffee’s bright tasting notes stand out, while at high levels it can overpower the other flavors in a cup. A well-balanced bitterness is a desirable characteristic in specialty-grade beans that can be enhanced by brewing techniques.
Coffee bean bitterness comes from the chlorogenic acids in green coffee beans that react to a hot roasting process. These compounds are naturally produced in the green bean but can be affected by the environment, species and processing. A 2006 study by Adriana Farah and Carmen Marino Donangelo published in the Brazilian Journal of Plant Physiology found that different cultivating methods can affect the amount of chlorogenic acids that are produced in green coffee, as well as their levels of bitterness.
The climate, soil and elevation where a coffee grows also influence its taste characteristics. For example, volcanic soils produce distinctive earthy tastes, while high-altitude growing regions can create nuttier and fruitier coffee. The types of cultivars used also make a difference in the flavor profile of a cup.
While it may take some time to find the perfect flavor, every coffee lover will eventually discover the one that suits them best. Once you have a general idea of what type of coffee you want to enjoy, experiment with different beans in varying roast levels and in combination with other flavors until you find the perfect cup. And don’t be afraid to try something new — after all, the world of coffee is huge and full of surprises!
As with sweet, sour, and bitter flavors, the acid in coffee beans can have a wide range of positive or negative effects on your cup of Joe. It may seem counterintuitive that something as small and seemingly bland as a coffee bean could have such a vast array of different tastes. However, the hundreds of chemical and organic compounds found in each one of these tiny brown beans contribute to a very complex flavor profile. And with each plant reacting differently to various environmental factors like the climate, soil conditions, and harvesting practices, it should come as no surprise that there are both similarities and discrepancies between coffees from different regions or countries.
One of the most significant differences in coffees from different origins is the amount of acid in each batch. This can be influenced by the growing conditions, processing methods, and roasting techniques employed in the production process. For example, arabica beans grown at higher elevations tend to have more acidic profiles while those produced at lower elevations can develop a more balanced flavor. Additionally, the types of fruit and trees growing in the region will also impact the flavor.
Citric acids are found in arabica beans at high elevations and offer a fresh citrus taste. These acids can be paired with phosphoric acid to add a grapefruit or orange flavor, or with malic acid to create apple or pear-like sensations. These flavors are often referred to as “bright” or “tangy,” and will generally be more prevalent in light roasted coffees as these types of acid degrade quickly during the roasting process.
This diversity in the amount of acidity is what makes each coffee taste so unique and why you might notice that coffee from Ethiopia tastes bright and fruity, while Colombian beans have a more balanced flavor. This is why Joe’s Garage Coffee offers a range of roasters and origins in our coffee wholesale options and coffee subscriptions so that you can find the perfect cup of coffee to suit your preferences!
We talk a lot about umami at Bold Bean Coffee Roasters. About how mushrooms are packed with it and how our process amplifies it. But what exactly is umami?
It was first described as a flavor in 1908 by Kikunae Ikeda, a Japanese chemist who used kombu seaweed broth to pin down the taste molecule. He called it umami, a savory flavor that improves the taste of other foods without adding salty, sweet, or bitter flavors. It was a new and profound discovery, but it took nearly a century for Western culture to accept umami as one of the five tastes along with sweetness, sourness, and saltiness.
Part of the reason for this delay was discrimination. Like many of the other flavors, umami was first identified in Japan, and Ikeda’s work was met with suspicion and hostility because it seemed to come from the East. But the fact that umami enhances other flavors, even in a simple broth, was enough to convince most cooks and consumers of its value.
The savory flavor of umami comes from an amino acid called glutamic acid that receptors on your tongue can detect. When you eat something that has umami, your brain sends a signal to your stomach to fill up with more of the food because it is so delicious. Glutamic acid is found in many meats and fish but it also contributes to the umami flavor of tomatoes, cheese (Parmesan is a big source of umami), and soy sauce, miso paste, and fish sauces from Thailand or Vietnam.
As a result of the history of discrimination and prejudice against MSG, it’s still demonized by some (see this excellent article from the New York Times). But MSG is actually a naturally occurring substance in most mushrooms and other plants, including our favorite, coffee beans. In fact, a recent study showed that the soil composition of a coffee farm directly impacts the levels of volatile compounds (including umami) produced by coffee beans during fermentation.