Steam rising from a cup of coffee on a wooden table in a panelled room, near a window

In the coffee industry, “aroma” refers to the smell or fragrance of coffee, which is an important aspect of its flavour profile. Aroma is considered one of the most important factors in determining the quality and character of a coffee.

It’s a smell sensed in the nose and at the back of the mouth.
More than any other sense, the aroma is linked to memories and emotions. Aroma is fundamental to a consumer’s perception of coffee quality and critical to their acceptance or disproval of the final product.

Canterbury Coffee Training Manager, Lenka Bohorova

Coffee aroma is created by a complex mixture of volatile compounds that are released from the coffee beans when they are roasted and ground. These compounds include things like acids, sugars, and various volatile compounds that are responsible for the unique aroma of coffee.

The aroma of coffee can be evaluated in a process called “cupping,” which is a standardized method used to evaluate the quality and characteristics of coffee beans. During cupping, coffee samples are brewed and the aroma is evaluated by taking a deep sniff of the coffee. The aroma is evaluated based on a sensory lexicon which includes terms such as “fruity,” “nutty,” “chocolatey,” “spicy,” and “flowery,” among others.

Coffee aroma is considered to be an important aspect of the coffee’s flavour profile and is used to determine the quality and character of the coffee. Roasters use the aroma to make decisions about purchasing and roasting coffee, and they use the aroma to create blends that have a desired flavour profile.

Aroma complexity is perceived directly by the nose before consumption, by orthonasal olfaction, and during consumption, by retronasal olfaction. For more on orthonasal and retronsal olfaction, see this Wikipedia article.

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