Roast2Order Coffee & Tea shop

Discover How Coffee Characteristics Like Taste, Aroma, & Flavor Create the Perfect Cup

Breathing in the steam curling up from your morning coffee, cupping your hands around the warm mug, and taking that first sip . . . coffee is one of life’s simplest pleasures. But you don’t need to be a coffee connoisseur to understand more about how the complexities of coffee flavor notes, tastes, and aromas come together to create your favorite blend.

Today, we’re taking a look at how all of these different characteristics combine to make unique cups of coffee. We’ll also dive into some of our signature roasts here at Roast 2 Order and explore how the roast, acidity, body, and finish compare from cup to cup.

So pour yourself a fresh cup and settle in to learn a little more about what makes your favorite daily ritual so compelling!

What are the main characteristics of coffee?

Suppose you’ve ever looked at a coffee label and wondered what exactly is going on. In that case, you know many different words describe coffee. But what differentiates a nutty, mild breakfast blend with a smooth finish from a heavy-bodied bold dark roast? What’s a breakfast blend, and what’s a dark roast?
Knowing a few key definitions can help you make sense of all the information and choose the bag of beans that’s right for you.

Coffee Taste, Aroma, and Flavor

These terms can often seem interchangeable. The basic key concept, though, is that taste + aroma = flavor.

Taste has to do with how your taste buds perceive the coffee on the tongue. Aroma is the smell of the brewed cup – that whiff of goodness you get when you lean over and breathe in. Flavor is what happens when you combine the two.

Enjoying fresh delicious roasted coffeeOur sense of smell has as much to do with the foods and drinks we like as our sense of taste does. (Anyone who’s had a stuffy nose and found food much less tasty has experienced this.) That’s why describing flavor requires coffee experts to think about these two senses in tandem.

Coffee tasting notes and coffee flavor notes are used somewhat interchangeably to describe how we perceive the flavor of coffee. It can be a little confusing because there is flavored coffee that may have caramel or hazelnut flavoring added; however, when an expert describes coffee as having ‘notes of hazelnut,’ that doesn’t mean the coffee is hazelnut-flavored. Instead, it describes the flavor natural to the coffee itself and compares it to hazelnut.

The Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel, which was created by the Specialty Coffee Association of America in collaboration with World Coffee Research, is a helpful tool for learning how to identify and describe flavors. Tasters start with the inner circles and work their way outwards; for instance, a flavor might first be identified as fruity, then as berry, and finally as blackberry.

Coffee Roast

Green coffee beans, light roasted coffee beans, dark roasted coffee beansCoffee roasts generally fall on a spectrum between light and dark, with the middle being described as ‘medium.’ The longer beans are roasted, the darker the final roast.

In general, lighter roasts have:

  • More caffeine by volume
  • Higher naturally forming acidity
  • More floral or fruity notes
  • Minimal or no visible surface oil for a lighter body

A note on body: The oiliness actually comes from the type of bean, where it is grown. For example, Kona beans are known as one of the least oily beans available.

The appearance of oil vs. dry is more likely going to be the difference between lighter roast and darker. As noted, these oils coming to the surface will also affect the taste. The longer the bean is roasted, bringing it to a higher temperature, the more oil tends to rise to the surface.

Tip: One way to reduce acidity in coffee is to add milk, cream, or sugar. We also recommend brewing coffee with some added salt can help reduce the bitterness and acidity.

In comparison, darker roasts have:

  • Less caffeine by volume
  • Lower naturally forming acidity
  • More chocolate or roasted flavor notes
  • More surface oil for a thicker, fuller body

Darker roasts can sometimes look “oily,” which is due to the natural oils of coffee being roasted out of the bean. Darker roasts sometimes do not look oily until after they have completely degassed, which is the process roasted beans go through after roasting. Due to the darker roast, the oils tend to come up to the surface more and more quickly.French Roast Fresh Roasted Coffee

The darkness of the roast will also affect the weight of the bean after roast. The darker the roast, the lighter the resulting beans. This is known as “shrinkage: during roasting.” For a roaster to produce one pound of roasted coffee beans, they must start with more than one pound of green coffee beans. Shrinkage varies by bean and darkness of roast; it usually averages around 14% but can be as low as 8–11% and as high as 18–20%.

Breakfast Blend roasted coffeeYou might find yourself drawn to certain types of roasts or selecting different roasts for different times of the day. For instance, our Roast2Order Breakfast Blend is a light roast with a smooth finish and enough caffeine to perk you up.

One more note about lighter and darker roasts: We recently changed our supplier of beans. What’s one thing you will notice with our darker roasted coffee compared to our previous supplier? The beans may look drier immediately upon opening. It sometimes takes up to a full week for oils to rise to the surface. (If you can make your bag last that long, see if you notice any difference in the appearance of whether the beans appear dry or oily over time.)

Coffee Acidity

Coffee acidity can range from low to high. Some people find high-acidity coffees to have a bright flavor they quite enjoy, while others prefer low-acidity coffees to be easier to drink, potentially less upsetting to the stomach. Other stomach irritations are associated with coffee drinking, which we plan to explore in future articles. However, here at Roast2Order Coffee, many of our customers have related great relief of stomach issues. We’ve even heard customers say that R2O is the only coffee they can stomach! To us, that is a huge compliment.

All coffee contains some level of acid, just as a matter of where it falls on the pH scale. Heartburn, after all, is caused by stomach acid, which is so much more acidic than coffee that it becomes a moot point. The point is not to find a coffee with no acidity (which wouldn’t be coffee at all) but to find one with an acidity level you handle well.

Coffee Body

Coffee body is a description of viscosity or thickness. Body might be described as light, medium, full, or heavy. Roasting coffee tends to bring out more of the oils, which can create a fuller sensation as it’s drunk.

On a side note, we also offer flavored coffee at Roast2Order Coffee and Tea. The flavoring is added after we roast (so it isn’t cooked off) and after the beans are sufficiently cooled. In order to help them stick to the outside of the bean, the concentrated flavors are mixed with various edible substances, frequently oils. Certain flavorings will make these flavored beans look more oily, which is only due to the flavor, not the coffee oils seeping out.

Coffee Finish

The finish on a coffee is the sensation that lingers after you’ve savored a sip or finished the cup. Some finishes on coffee are described as:

  • Smooth
  • Bold
  • Citrus
  • Sweet

Next time you have a cup of coffee, take a sip and think about the taste left in your mouth after you’ve swallowed. As you try different types of coffees, you’ll begin to notice the differences between these different finishes.

These tastes are, of course, affected by flavorings, creamers, and sugar. It’s best to judge a coffee by drinking it plain. Once you have tasted it plain, then add your flavorings, sweeteners, and cream as desired. Notice how those flavor notes and finishes change with those additions.

How Freshness Affects Flavor

Fresh is always better for flavor! Age and improper storage will also cause a bean to take on an oily appearance, even if it’s a lighter roasted bean. As they age, the oils will eventually rise to the surface no matter how they are roasted. Once on the surface, these will oxidize and cause the brewed coffee to taste bitter, sour, bland, and stale. That’s why we specialize in freshly roasted coffee that’s as fresh as possible when it reaches you.

We seal our coffee into bags that contain a one-way valve to ensure that coffee stays fresh rather than oxidizing. This valve allows the pressure to come out on its own as it builds up rather than bursting. The degassing process is why you may notice a bag of roasted coffee looking puffy; the air trapped inside is caused by degassing. If you squeeze the bag gently, you can hear and smell the gas coming out. It should smell quite delicious, like freshly roasted coffee. The valve is one-way; while it allows the gas to escape the bag, no new air can come in until you open the bag. This helps preserve freshness.

See our air-tight storage canisters from Planetary Design. We have a variety of colors and just added a new one, Brushed Copper- see in shop!

Characteristics of Roast 2 Order Coffees

Here at Roast 2 Order, we carry a wide range of coffees to suit different moods and palates. You’ll find their descriptions below. Browsing this list and comparing the different descriptions might give you a feeling for your next favorite blend or single-origin coffee!

The best way to find the coffee you love is to try many kinds! These tasting notes will help you understand what you’re drinking so you can explore similar flavors and savor our high-quality small-batch roasts. And remember: if you prefer coffee with cream, sugar, or flavors added, try it plain at first so you can make a note of the taste. Then, add your favorite ingredients and notice the difference.

Need a little extra nudge to give our freshly roasted beans a try? Use the coupon code TRYR2O to get free shipping on your first order! (This is a one-time use coupon code that can’t be combined with other offers.)

Our Coffee Blends

Breakfast Blend

  • Roast: Light
  • Aroma/Flavor: Slightly nutty and mild tasting
  • Acidity: Medium
  • Body: Medium
  • Finish: Smooth

Dahlcast Mountain Blend

  • Roast: Medium-dark
  • Aroma/Flavor: Full-flavored and not overly roasted
  • Acidity: Low
  • Body: Full
  • Finish: Lively

 

Espresso and Decaf Espresso

  • Roast: Medium
  • Aroma/Flavor: Fragrant aroma with a rich bold spicy to bitter flavor
  • Acidity: Medium
  • Body: Full
  • Finish: Long-lasting and bold

French and Decaf French

  • Roast: Dark
  • Aroma/Flavor: Rich, bold and slightly more bitter flavor
  • Acidity: Low
  • Body: Full
  • Finish: Long-lasting and bolder

Flowermouth Mountain Blend

  • Roast: Medium-dark
  • Aroma/Flavor: Subtle creamier taste with a chocolatey finish
  • Acidity: Low
  • Body: Heavier
  • Finish: Bold

Morning Blend

  • Roast: Light
  • Aroma/Flavor: Slightly nutty and mild tasting
  • Acidity: Medium
  • Body: Medium
  • Finish: Citrus

Decaf Blend

  • Roast: Light
  • Aroma/Flavor: Sweet and flavorful
  • Acidity: Medium
  • Body: Light
  • Finish: Smooth

Our Single-Origin Coffees

Brazilian

  • Roast: Light
  • Aroma/Flavor: Sweet and flavorful
  • Acidity: Medium
  • Body: Light
  • Finish: Smooth

Colombian

  • Roast: Medium-dark
  • Aroma/Flavor: Slightly nutty aroma, hint of sweet chocolate flavor
  • Acidity: Medium
  • Body: Light
  • Finish: Smooth

Ethiopian Light

  • Roast: Light
  • Aroma/Flavor: Floral and fruit
  • Acidity: Medium
  • Body: Medium
  • Finish: Smooth

Ethiopian Dark

  • Roast: Dark
  • Aroma/Flavor: Floral and fruit
  • Acidity: Low
  • Body: Full
  • Finish: Smooth

Guatemala

  • Roast: Medium
  • Aroma/Flavor: Rich, smooth, sweet flavors
  • Acidity: Medium
  • Body: Full
  • Finish: Sweet

Sumatra

  • Roast: Medium
  • Aroma/Flavor: Smokey, toasted flavors
  • Acidity: Medium
  • Body: Full
  • Finish: Lingering with a hint of sweet, very dark chocolate