The way a coffee smells describes its aroma. Sometimes subtle, aromas can be earthy, spicy, floral or nutty and are directly related to the coffee’s flavor.
Acidity refers to the tanginess or tartness of a coffee, not the pH level, and can be described as low, medium or high. Acidity is a lively, palate-cleansing characteristic you’ll taste and feel on the sides and tip of your tongue and sometimes at the back of your jawbone, like when you taste citrus fruits. Coffees with high acidity are described as bright, tangy and crisp with a clean finish; low-acidity coffees feel smooth in your mouth and linger.
Body describes the weight of a coffee on your tongue. Described as light, medium or full, it’s very much like comparing nonfat milk with whole milk. Light-bodied coffees feel light on the tongue and have a clean finish; full-bodied coffees feel heavier and have lingering flavors.
Flavor is the most relatable taste characteristic. Sometimes obvious, sometimes subtle, flavor can vary greatly between coffees—from citrus to cocoa to berry, to name a few—and register in different parts of your mouth.