Caffeine 101: What Does Coffee Taste Like?

by | Feb 12, 2022

The aroma and flavor of coffee vary depending on many factors, such as blend, origin [of the beans], roast level [degree to which the beans were roasted], and brewing method [espresso machine, automatic drip, etc.]. One of the most common questions asked when it comes to coffee is “What does coffee taste like?” The true answer, however, is subjective. What does coffee taste like to you?

Coffee can have fruity and flowery tastes depending on the origin of the beans, from Zanzibar’s peaches to Costa Rica’s blueberries. It can be nutty and sweet with low acidity. If a roasted bean is ground up, one can detect the aromas of chocolate and carob.

The Stages of Coffee

Coffee starts out green, which is a grassy color, then goes through a brownish mottled stage before turning a rich dark brown or black during the roasting process. Roasting coffee beans enhances their aroma and flavor producing chemicals that cause our senses of smell and taste to kick in.

Wide Array of Coffee Tastes

Coffee can have a wide array of tastes, ranging from earthy and woody to fruity and sweet. The palette for tasting coffee includes:


Aromatic compounds that add a tart flavor, found in lemon rinds


A chemical compound in hops used as a flavoring agent in beer


Brewed from roasted seeds of the carob tree


The roasted and ground beans or seeds of a tropical tree that is used to add a chocolate-like flavor to foods


Having an aroma reminiscent of flowers, e.g., rose petals, jasmine


Having the flavor or smell of fruit


A sweet, thick liquid made by bees from the nectar of flowers


Having a low acidity and smooth flavor, e.g., milk chocolate has more milk than dark chocolate so it is mellower

Odor/ Aroma: Pungent

Sharp, strong, and irritating to the senses


Having a sugary, pleasant smell, e.g., brown sugar and honey


Having a dry or resinous odor like freshly cut wood or balsam pine

70% of taste is due to what we smell, so it is no surprise that aroma can play such an important role in tasting.

Is Acidity of Coffee Different from Bitterness

The acidity of coffee can be high, medium, or low. Acidity is different from bitterness in that it has no adverse effect on the body but adds excitement for the drinker. Acidic taste sensations are sour [e.g., lemons], salty [e.g., seawater], sweet [e.g., sugars], and bitter [e.g., unsweetened chocolate] .

Your cup of coffee is a combination of over 800 chemicals that produce various taste sensations. Some chemicals are fruity, others are spicy, some have wine-like tannins, etc. Many people experience coffee as being bitter with only a few experiencing it as slightly sour and others having it taste bitter and creamy at the same time.

One of the reasons why people may think coffee tastes bad is because it can taste overly bitter to those not used to having black coffee, but if milk and sugar are added, this reduces the bitterness allowing other flavors to be detected.

What Taste Category Does Coffee Fall?

Many people wonder what does coffee taste like. Our tongues can detect five different tastes: sweet, salty, bitter [astringent], sour [acidic] and umami [savory]. Within these categories are countless other flavor sensations from chocolate to lemon to green tea. Coffee falls under the category of bitter.

Does the Roasting Process of Coffee Beans Affect the Taste of Coffee?

Coffee beans that are lighter in color tend to be more acidic than darker roasted coffees. The roasting process seems to increase the complexity of flavors. Acidity can be a positive tasted sensation especially when it reminds you of lemon, lime, or other citrus fruit. Acidity in coffee may also be what is responsible for improving mental clarity after drinking coffee. Some people will experience sourness if they have sensitive teeth that are more susceptible to enamel erosion by acids.

Why Do You Need a Coffee Maker?

Different types of coffee makers make different qualities and styles of coffee. They vary in size, function, quality, and durability. A plunger pot is often used to brew stronger black tea or Turkish coffee while smaller expresso machines can be used for single servings of caffe latte or cappuccino. Some have built-in coffee grinders which are great for avoiding stale coffee that is often found in cheap coffee makers.

Is Coffee Better When You Don’t Add Milk?

Some people think that the flavor of coffee is changed when milk is added but others prefer it. It is said that adding milk to your coffee changes the flavor of the coffee making it less acidic. Milk is a common option but there are those who prefer their coffee black as they believe that they can taste more pure flavors from it.

What Does Coffee Taste Like Without Milk?

Wondering what does coffee taste like without milk? People have reported that without milk their coffee has been described as being bitter, pungent, woody, spicy, dry, savory, smoky, burnt, sour, and earthy. Coffee with milk has been described as being sweet, creamy, smooth, or mellow.

Coffee is a complex beverage that everyone enjoys in their own way. Not only do the descriptions of how it tastes differ from person to person but there are many opinions on what makes the best coffee including where it is grown, how much water is used during processing, whether or not to add milk and what type of milk should be used.

Is Drinking Coffee Good for Your Health?

Health organizations have been studying the effects of coffee drinking on our health for a long time now. The benefits of coffee consumption have been shown to be associated with decreased risk of type II diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, gallstones, liver diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, cirrhosis of the liver, and cancer.

Coffee consumption has also been associated with increased alertness but this varies from person to person depending on body chemistry as well as tolerance to caffeine. Coffee has also been shown to be an excellent antioxidant source with some studies showing that it can reduce the risk of death from all causes.

Wrapping Up:

So, what does coffee taste like? Coffee may taste bad to some people because it is too bitter but this can be resolved by adding milk and sugar. You need a coffee maker for different styles of coffee including black coffee, caffe latte, cappuccino etc… Coffee is better without milk as some people believe that they can taste more pure flavors from it. Drinking coffee is good for your health as long as you are not allergic to caffeine.

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