Coffee, coffee cupping, Education, Paul's Notes, Sensory Series

Paul's Notes - The difference between taste and aroma

You have heard someone say, “Wow, that was tasty” or “did you taste that?” or just “so tasty”. But when did you last hear someone use the word aroma in a sentence? If you want to become a sensory scientist you are going to have to distinguish these two words.

Nasal Olfaction Source  Enology Interantional.

An everyday illustration. “This candy (or lolly) tastes like mint”. But remember we are scientists, it does not technically taste like mint but rather has an aroma we would call mint. This aroma is recognized by the part of the brain called the olfactory bulb. Type olfactory bulb into Google and see the images that turn up. Scary yet interesting. 

When sitting my first Quality Grader exam, Ted Lingle (then Coffee Quality Institute Executive Director) said something along the lines of “the tongue can tell, but the nose knows.” He was alluding to 80% of the flavor of a cup of coffee is perceived through the nose and only 20% through the mouth. Which can come in pretty handy, when purchasing a bag of beans, if coffee can only be smelt before buying, you’ll know  80%.

Once you realize your nose is your biggest asset, your box of tools for accuracy increases immensely. Suddenly you will be noticing things you didn’t smell before.

Many experts of sensory perception say that it’s when you smell a beverage or food, before it enters the mouth, that you can be up to 80 percent sure of what it is. Like scrambled eggs (see the last blog). It is also said that people recall smells with 65 percent accuracy after a year, while visual recall sinks to about 50 percent after only three months. Between the nose, mouth, and eyes, the nose definitely wins. 

And all this is going on when you drink a cup of Caravan’s coffee.

-Story by Paul Allen.

-Photo courtesy Battlecreek Coffee Roasters via Unsplash


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