Coffee and the senses

Aroma, taste and flavour

Aroma, taste and flavour are closely connected concepts, however they have distinct definitions.

Aroma is defined as an odour, sensed through the nose and retronasal olfaction, i.e. through the back of the mouth where the nasal and mouth cavities are interlinked. Taste is the sense experienced by the tongue and describes sensations of saltiness, sweetness, sourness, bitterness or umami. Flavour is defined as a combination of both aroma and taste1.

Taste and aroma are closely associated with each other and are both perceived by processes within the limbic brain areas that participate in emotion2. Aroma plays a particular role in evoking thoughts and emotions that stem from previous experiences and memories3.

Sensory experts describe the taste and aroma of coffee in great detail and are able to differentiate between different origins of coffee beans, levels of roast and preparation methods.

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