Java jargon

Connoisseurs have terms for describing the characteristics of a brew. Generally, subtle flavors and aromas are described as “notes.” Top or base notes are good, off-notes are bad. Knowing the lingo can help you analyze and appreciate your coffee (and impress your coffee-drinking friends).

Astringent
Dry, puckering feel of unripe fruit or over-brewed tea.

Balanced
Ideal blend of sour and bitter; not dull or flat.

Body
Feeling of fullness and weight in the mouth.

Cereal or grainy
Like a cooked wheat cereal.

Cooked
Like coffee that has been heated too long.

Earthy
Hints of aromas and flavors similar to potato skins or root vegetables. (But dirty is a harsh off-note.)

Green
Has two meanings. A green/sharp or bright coffee is clean and light, with pleasing acidity. A green/under-ripe coffee suggests unripe beans.

Nutty
Like fresh toasted nuts.

Papery
Like damp cardboard.

Woody
Like damp popsicle sticks.