Saturday, April 13, 2024

What’s in your cup? The smell, taste and feel of the perfect coffee

Melita Ferarro. Image supplied by WKSHOP.

Coffee is a lot like wine. Where the beans grow, how they’re roasted, the method used to brew them … it all impacts that final, delicious cup.

By WKSHOP Academy Training Manager Melita Ferarro. 

Now, we could get scientific and talk for hours about brew ratios, TDS (total dissolved solids), water quality – everything from the coffee farm through to that first morning sip – but let’s stop for a minute and smell those proverbial coffee beans…

Playing around with different coffees (single origins, blends), brew ratios, grind size and water temperatures to see what these changes may bring to the smell, taste and feel you experience is all part of the romance. At WKSHOP Academy we love sharing our knowledge and appreciation for coffee and will breakdown exactly what you are experiencing when enjoying your daily brew.


Humans can identify more than 10,000 different smells. Think back to when you may have experienced a head cold and congestion; things taste different because of the close relationship of taste and smell. During a head cold your sense of taste is still working, but unfortunately, your sense of smell not so much, ultimately altering the way things taste.

Pro tip: the “fragrance” of coffee refers to the aroma of roasted coffee prior to brewing and will be at strongest when the beans are freshly ground. When we talk about “aroma”, this refers to brewed coffee and to airborne soluble solids.


The four main components of taste include sweet, salty, sour, and bitter with the fifth honourable mention going to savoury, or umami.

If you prefer your coffee to be milk based (latte, flat white, cappuccino), then tasting black coffee or cupping coffee may seem quite bitter as there is no milk or other ingredients masking any of the elements of the coffee. However, when it comes to coffee, sourness and bitterness are not always negative characteristics. These are natural elements that can be found in coffee and help to bring a coffee’s ‘character’ to the fore.

Pro tip: Acidity is the ‘brightness’ or ‘zing’ the coffee delivers and can sometimes even be a feeling such as a warming, or a tingling on the palate. Imagine biting into a lemon and the feeling that brings. Understanding acidity helps roasters bring out the best flavours ensuring there are interesting taste characteristics in the cup. A darker roast may bring out the bitterness of a coffee while a light roast can accentuate the fruitiness. The finish is the residual aftertaste. This could be fleeting or lingering, and with specific flavours found in the coffee.


Here we are not just talking about the warm fuzzy ‘feeling’ your morning caffeine hit may bring, but what foodies call “mouth feel”. Think of full-cream milk versus skim milk, and how different they feel on your palate. One leaves a creamy coating on the palate, whilst the other is light and watery. 

Pro tip: In coffee – again, as in wine – we refer to this mouth feel as body. It could also be described as the heaviness or viscosity whilst drinking the coffee.

Above all it’s important to remember that coffee is about the pleasure it brings. What one coffee lover enjoys and appreciates in the cup can vary greatly to the next – and who is to say if either is right or wrong. In the end it is about discovering the perfect cup that brings you the most enjoyment.


About Melita Ferarro

Melita Ferarro is Training Manager for the WKSHOP Academy. She has over 16 years’ experience in the coffee industry and is responsible for the design and development of training programs to support coffee wholesale partners. The team at WKSHOP are coffee industry experts with a proven track record working with cafés, restaurants, and multi-site franchises to provide specialty contract coffee roasting, private label packaging, coffee training via our WKSHOP Academy, coffee machinery and technical service support.


Image supplied by WKSHOP


WKSHOP is here to supply, create, educate, and innovate your coffee business. We provide specialty contract coffee roasting, private label packaging, coffee training via our WKSHOP Academy, coffee machinery and technical service support. If you’re a café, restaurant or multi-site franchise, let us workshop your coffee business.

Enquire now at or email

(Feature Image by WKSHOP)

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