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Mastering the Art of Coffee Tasting: A Step-by-Step Guide

Updated: Jan 16

Whether you're a seasoned barista or a curious coffee lover, understanding how to taste and smell your brew is key to a richer coffee experience. So, let's dive in and explore the nuances of coffee tasting together!

1. Setting the Stage for Tasting

Before we jump into tasting, it’s crucial to set up your space. Choose a quiet place with neutral lighting and minimal external smells. This way, your senses can focus solely on the coffee. Your cozy couch at home? Perfect!

Also, make sure to use identical vessels if you are doing a comparative tasting. The more standardized your setting is the more your sensory skills will stay out of bias.

coffee drinking

2. The Art of Smelling Coffee

Smelling coffee is an art in itself and happens in three stages:

  • First Stage: Start by smelling your coffee from a distance. This gives you an overall vibe of the brew.

  • Second Stage: Move in closer for short, quick sniffs. Think of how dogs smell – that’s your cue! Along with a triangular head motion, this second sniff stage is where you can get most of the orthonasal aroma quality of the coffee.

  • Third Stage: Go for a longer, deeper sniff. This reveals lingering aromas and creates a different olfactory impact.

  • Fourth Stage: Check the retronasal aroma. Here, you inhale, block your nose, sip the coffee, and then release. It unveils a whole new layer of aromas.

3. How to Taste Coffee

Tasting coffee is not just about sipping. There are three methods:

  • Sipping: This refers to just drinking the coffee as usual. This form of tasting highlights texture, body, and aftertaste because most of the coffee will be in contact with the somatosensory part of the tongue (the one responsible for viscosity, temperature, spiciness, etc..)

  • Slurping: Like a hot soup, making the annoying noise that your parents didn't want you to do, now you can! By adding some air while slurping, it offers a balanced medium taste across all attributes and it's the most universal way of tasting coffee.

  • Whistling: You may have heard some of these birds whistling and slurping. It offers the advantage of spraying the coffee through the entire tongue rapidly and effectively. Best for perceiving aroma and flavor at their peak.

Each method illuminates different coffee attributes like acidity, sweetness, and bitterness. Combine them for a comprehensive taste profile.

sipping coffee

4. To Swallow or Not to Swallow, That is the Question

Deciding whether to swallow or spit the coffee depends on your preference and the number of coffees you're tasting. Swallowing lets you engage taste buds in your throat, adding depth to the tasting experience as you are increasing the retronasal experience. However, if you are tasting more than 4-5 cups, swallowing may lead to palate fatigue, and spitting out might be better for you.

5. The Final Step: Analyze

After preparing, smelling, tasting, and swallowing, it’s time to analyze. Reflect on the changes in brew methods, filter types, and grind sizes to synthesize your tasting experience.


There you have it – a comprehensive guide to tasting coffee like a pro! Remember, practice makes perfect. So, grab your favorite brew, experiment with these techniques, and see how your coffee experiences elevate.

  • Hungry for more coffee insights? Check out our Youtube Channel for detailed tutorials and tips.

  • Share your coffee-tasting adventures with us on Instagram using Memlicoffee. We can't wait to see your discoveries!

  • Looking for exquisite coffee origin to test your new skills? Visit our shop page and explore our curated selection.

Happy tasting, and remember – every cup of coffee has a story to tell!

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