Pretty much every foodie and their best friend know a thing or two about wine flavour profiles, but the same can’t be said about coffee…

Thanks to the rising popularity of premium coffee over the past few years, it’s becoming clear that quality coffee offers just as much nuanced flavour and body as its alcoholic counterpart.

If you’re serious about your blends, it’s probably time to start exploring the wide range of flavours found in your favourite hot beverage. Much like wine, a cup of coffee’s flavour profile depends on the body, acidity, aroma, and finish. But what do these terms mean?

Body

Simply put, body refers to how coffee feels in your mouth. It’s an all-encompassing term used to describe physical properties such as how coffee settles on and/or coats your tongue, and whether it is oily, grainy, or watery.

Light body coffees are usually watery; heavy body coffees have a hefty, almost textured feel.

Medium body coffees, on the other hand, sit somewhere in the middle.

Acidity

Similar to wine, it can be a major contributor to the overall taste of a cup of coffee. When people hear the word ‘acidity’, words such as sour, tangy, bitter, and sharp come to mind.

But the term is used in at least three ways in the coffee world: Acidity is often described as the dry, sparkling sensation that sets apart a premium coffee bought at your favourite family restaurant from a mundane cup of coloured water.

Without acidity, coffee tastes dull and mellow. When it comes to roasts, lighter roasts are usually more acidic than medium and dark roasts.

The beginner’s guide to coffee flavour profiles

Aroma

This is where things get a bit complicated. Aroma refers to the smell of coffee, and they’re currently more than 800 known aromatics in coffee. The best smelling cup of coffee is one that’s freshly roasted because the roasting process makes coffee lose its flavour quite rapidly.

Less aroma equals less flavour. If the coffee you order is roasted in another country, who knows how long it travelled before it made its way to you? Wimpy’s Premium Blend Coffee is roasted in South Africa, cutting the amount of time it takes to get to you and, more importantly, retaining most of its aroma.

Finish

Finish, as you would guess, refers to the aftertaste coffee leaves in your mouth. This is largely influenced by the flavour and body of the coffee in question.

Aftertaste ranges from chocolatey and carbony to turpeny and spicy. Think of coffee as a really good song. If the aroma is the enticing intro, the finish is the resonant silence at the end of the song.

Once you have a handle on aspects of coffee’s flavour profiles, it will set you on the right track to make better coffee and food pairings.

Who knows? You might even become your loved ones’ go-to coffee connoisseur.