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How To Determine Coffee Quality

How To Determine Coffee Quality

Every hipster has something different to tell you, but at High Voltage Coffee Co, we believe that coffee can be broken down into four main categories: aromaaciditysweetness, and body.

Aroma is how you perceive the smell of the coffee. What fragrance does it exhibit? Does the coffee smell nutty, earthy, fruity, smokey?

Acidity is referring to the aftertaste of the coffee and how lively it is. Generally, it is considered sharp and pleasing. Acidity is not a sour sensation like most people assume. Acidity is a highly desirable trait, ranging from dull to lively. Acidity is important or else your morning cup of coffee will taste flat.

The sweetness category is how sweet the coffee tastes. There is nothing unique about this category, but it is a major quality when comparing roasts.

Body is similar to the texture and how the coffee feels in your mouth. Does it feel light like water in your mouth? Or is it thicker like cream? The body can be determined by allowing the coffee to rest on the top of your tongue, rubbing it against the palate.


The easiest way to determine coffee quality, aside from tasting it, is through comparison. Gather up some friends, prepare some different types of coffee, and get ready to take some notes!

Step 1

Smell the aroma. The majority of our flavor perception is related to smell. This is why coffee roasters smell the coffee before tasting. This can be achieved by cupping your hands over the cup, trapping the aromas and inhaling it. Does it smell chocolaty, fruity, flowery?

Make sure you write down your observations. Not only will you forget the specifics if you are comparing a few, but it'll make it easier to compare with friends.

Step 2

Sip and slurp. Forget about your table manners. Slurping coffee ensures that the coffee covers your entire mouth, which allows the taste buds to perceive the coffee more accurately. Your taste experience will be different when compared to others tasting the exact same cup of coffee. That is why note-taking is crucial!

Step 3

Compare notes. What is similar between your notes? Just because the majority of your friends tasted something different, does not mean that you were wrong. It is possible that you may perceive tastes differently. Our coffee has been through countless hours of cupping and note-taking sessions.


Note: Taste and flavour are not synonymous, they are very different from each other. Taste is solely the chemical senses processed by your taste buds. Flavour is a combination of numerous faculties. The brain interprets all of the factors previously mentioned, bundling them together in what we know as flavor. 

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