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Much as wine tasters have created a wine tasting wheel to use an agreed upon terminology, professional coffee tasters use the Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel to grade coffees. This flavor wheel is designed for the trained pallet of a professional. Professional "cuppers" use this guide when buying coffee and for creating "taste characteristic profiles" of the coffees. Most of us are much better off using our "Flavor Characteristics" chart. The Flavor Characteristics chart is for use by the average "joe". It is a simplified method of charting your favorite java's characteristics. The flavor descriptions that are most commonly used are defined below.

Know thyself: what flavors appeal to you?

Here are some specific desirable flavor characteristics of coffee and the types of coffee that are associated with those characteristics.

* Bright, Dry, Sharp, or Snappy - typical of Costa Rican, Guatemalan, Kenyan.

* Caramelly - candy like or syrupy, typical of Colombian Supremo.

* Chocolaty - an aftertaste similar to unsweetened chocolate or vanilla. Typical of Costa Rican, Colombian Supremo and the House Blend.

* Delicate - a subtle flavor perceived on the tip of the tongue.

* Earthy - a soily characteristic, typical of Sumatran.

* Fragrant - an aromatic characteristic ranging from floral to spicy, typical of Costa Rican , Sumatra Mandheling and Kenyan.

* Fruity - an aromatic characteristic reminiscent of berries or citrus.

* Mellow - a round, smooth taste, typically lacking acid, typical of Colombian, Sumatra Mandheling, Whole Latta Java and Orgainc Mexican.

* Nutty - an aftertaste similar to roasted nuts, typical of Colombian and Orgainc Mexican.

* Spicy - a flavor and aroma reminiscent of spices typical of Guatemala Huehuetenango.

* Syrupy - strong, and rich, typical of Sumatran.

* Sweet - free of harshness, typical of Colombian.

* Wildness - an unusual, gamey flavor, typical of Sumatran.

* Winey - an aftertaste reminiscent of well-matured wine, typical of Kenyan, Guatemalan.

Coffee Culture