Understanding Flavor notes

On the label of every bag of Three Tail Coffee, we include a list of flavor notes and smells. While some may expect this to be a guarantee of what a given coffee will taste like, its actual purpose is quite different. We would like to take a moment to explain how we decide on these descriptions, and how they can be used to choose the right coffee for you.

Evaluating with Cupping

When a new batch of green coffee arrives, the first order of business is to run a test roast. Once complete, we conduct a series of cupping sessions, which are simply a controlled method of taste testing. We brew several cups over the span of several days, and take notes about the flavors and aromas we encounter. From these notes, we can determine the best aspects of a coffee, and then tailor a roast profile to best showcase them.

Some coffee, like varieties from Kenya, can be bright and acidic. Others can be sweet, fruity, or nutty. Looking at several varieties of coffee however, these descriptions aren’t very helpful. If something is described as sweet and a little tannic, for example, that doesn’t really tell you much. If it is instead described as tasting like dried apricot however, you get a much clearer idea of what to expect.

Flavor notes as a guide

At Three Tail Coffee, we do not use any flavorings of any kind in our coffee. The flavor notes listed on the label then, are simply the best way we can describe the experiences we had while cupping that particular coffee.

A coffee labeled as peaches and caramel for example may not taste exactly like peaches and caramel. What you can expect however, are sweet, and slightly tannic or bitter notes, with a caramelized sugar finish. If the grounds smell a bit spicy, we might identify cinnamon or nutmeg which paints a far clearer picture than just spicy.

Use our list of flavor notes as a guide to finding the perfect coffee for your pallete.