Tasting Vocabulary : Aroma

Strictly speaking, aroma cannot be separated from acidity and flavor. Acidy coffees smell acidy, and richly flavored coffees smell richly flavored. Nevertheless, certain high, fleeting notes are reflected most clearly before the coffee is actually tasted. There is frequently a subtle floral note to some coffee that is experienced most clearly in the aroma, particularly at the moment the crust is broken in the traditional tasting ritual. Of the three coffees I recommend for your tasting, you are most likely to detect these fresh floral notes in the Kenya, but depending on the roast and freshness of the coffee you could experience it in any of the three samples. Latin-American coffees brought to a medium roast, like the Costa Rica, may display a sweet vanilla-nut complex in aroma. The Sumatra also may exhibit smoky, pungent, earthlike, or spicy notes. Finally, if your Costa Rica is a La Minita, the aroma should have a sort of echoing, resonant depth to it. The same should be true of the Kenya, whereas you may find that the aromatic sensations of the Sumatra are rather immediate and limited, without a sense of dimension opening behind and around them.