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Roast Related Terms

Roast flavors exist alongside varietal flavors, although they often can mask or destroy them.

Sweet. Sweet refers to the presence of some carmelly flavors developed in a Full City type roast. An overall pleasantness and balance achieved by good roasting that is sensitive to the varietal character of the bean. Sweet might also refer simply to a varietal characteristic, also called soft, mild or mellow.

Baked or Bready. Under-roasted coffees that haven't developed their character, or coffees that simply sat in the roaster too long without enough heat. It can also refer to scorched coffees where the outside of the bean is browned and the inside is under-roasted.

Bittersweet. The bittersweetness of a coffee develops as the roast gets darker and eventually overpowers other flavors. It dark roasts, acidity is reduced until completely absent, while the carmelly taste of burnt sugars form the stimulating bittersweetness. This is a newer term but I like the way it refers to the strong flavors of dark chocolate. It is also the quality people love about Peets and Starbucks blended coffees.

Burnt. Either the pleasant flavor of Dark French or Spanish roasts, or the flat taste of burnt rubber in your mouth, depending on how you view such things.


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