Coffee Tasting for Beginners: The Ultimate Guide

By Robert Parsons August 6, 2021

There are only a select few things in the world that once you cross the threshold, there is no returning. Adulthood, building a tolerance for alcohol and becoming accustomed to coffee tasting. All three are to the point of no return. If you are ready to take that leap into the world of coffee, it can be a lot to unpack. 

Lucky for you, we are your personal coffee gurus ready to ease you into a lifetime of coffee love. We’ll give you some coffee, notes, teach you how to properly taste coffee, and a bit of what coffee tastes like, so you know what you are heading into. Coffee tasting can also be a useful tool for those that already enjoy coffee, but want to appreciate the drink in a new way. So get ready to enter an entirely new world and see what the hype is all about.

Where to Begin

The world of coffee is quite large, and introducing yourself into that world needs to be done gracefully. That’s where we come in. To do it well, tasting coffee for the first time isn’t just grabbing a black cup of Starbucks and calling it a day. There is an art to coffee tasting just like you would taste wine. 


The first thing to note is tasting coffee properly involves taking a step back from our typical tasting method and utilizing our taste buds. Tap into your senses in a new light to taste the complexities of flavor. Taking this step back will help you appreciate the complex flavors that coffee has. 

There are a few questions to ask yourself when tasting coffee and they all are in relation to what the drink reminds you of. When tasting something, the only frame of reference we have is things we’ve tasted before, so tap into this thought processing when taste testing:

1. What does it taste like?

Flavor is everything. Is it sweet? Is it sour? Is it savory? Expand your mind and think of anything and everything the sip reminds you of. The more you can familiarize yourself with, the more you can appreciate the cup’s flavor. 

2. What is the body similar to?

When we’re talking about the body, we are talking about texture and everything that comes along with it? Is the body of this sip velvety and smooth or harsh and full of substance? Both sides can be done well and enjoyed, but these unique characteristics are what make a cup of coffee stand out among the others. 

3. What is the acidity similar to? 

Acidity is a big factor as well. Is this sip bitter or sweet? Sour? There is always a scale of this, so compare it to other acidic flavors and rate the level in relation to the two. This will help pinpoint exactly how acidic it is. 

4. What does the aftertaste taste like?

A characteristic that often gets overlooked is the aftertaste of a cup of coffee. Is it smooth? Does it leave a not so good taste in your mouth? The flavor isn’t all about what comes immediately, but what lingers after. Let this be another part of your tasting experience that gives you an overall judgement of the sip. 


Think of anything and everything the sip reminds you of. Dwell on the flavor. The longer you savor the moment, the more flavor will explode in your sip. This concept applies to more than just coffee, but with everything you eat. Giving your taste buds the workout needed to grow your skills in tasting flavors will allow for a more expansive coffee tasting experience. 

So we’ve mastered our taste buds, but another large indicator in taste testing is the smell. Let your nose enhance the experience. Smell the coffee before and while you taste it. The smell of coffee is quite well known, but there is complexity in the different types of coffee and their unique smells. Allow this to become part of your tasting experience. 


Now that we are using every sense that we can, let yourself get a different flavor in each sip. Loads of coffee have multiple layers, so the first sip may taste quite different from the next. Slowly sip and allow this to enhance your experience. 

This is one of the most exciting aspects of flavors, as a unique experience can come from each sip. Complex coffee comes from proper brewing, high-quality coffee grounds, and well-made machines that can monitor the water pressure, ratio, and brew, so be sure to splurge on good coffee for your experience. 

Tasting Party

Now that we have mastered the art of coffee tasting, it is time to give it a shot the proper way. Throw your very own coffee tasting with your friends and family. Allow the community aspect of coffee to unite your opinions on flavor, body, smell, and layers. Each component plays a key role in the overall impression. Make it a fun challenge and vote on your favorites to see which person’s coffee wins overall. 

Coffee has loads of styles, brews, and roasts, so when you finally master the art of taste testing, there is never going to be a shortage of coffee options to try!