What Does Good Coffee Taste Like?

If you’ve ever had a great cup of coffee from your local coffee shop, you know how amazing it can be. The aroma, the taste — it’s like nothing else. What does good coffee taste like? Good coffee has a lot of different tastes and flavors. All good coffees have in common that they’re all made with fresh, high-quality beans.

What Does Good Coffee Taste Like?

A good cup of coffee is flavorful and sweet with a balanced level of acidity. There are a variety of flavors and aromas in coffee, ranging from nutty to fruity and chocolate. The acidity must balance out the sweetness. The bitterness in coffee always exists, although it shouldn’t dominate the cup.

Coffee Flavors in a Cup

It can be tough to describe good coffee. Here are some flavor hints from your trusted baristas.

Chocolate or Caramel Notes

You may have noticed the smell of chocolate or caramel when brewing your favorite brew. This is because there are compounds in the coffee that produce these notes. They’re created during roasting by the Maillard reaction, which is the same process that makes bread and meat brown during cooking.

An image of good coffee

Citrus or Berry Notes

If your coffee has citrus or berry notes, it was likely dried with fruit peels or berries. These add a fruity sweetness to the final cup of coffee. Although they can also make it taste not very pleasant if overdone!

Malty or Nutty Notes

Some coffee beans produce malty or nutty aromas in brewed coffee. These can be pleasant, although they are often linked to over-roasted beans. If you have ever had an espresso shot that tasted burnt and bitter, this is probably what it was.

Citrus Notes

Many coffees have citrusy undertones, sometimes described as lemon or lime flavors. This is usually due to high-quality beans from regions such as Ethiopia and Kenya. Some people also describe them as tasting like oranges or lemons, although this is not always the case.


This flavor comes from polyphenol compounds found in both coffee beans and their peels (the outer layer). The bitterness depends on how long they were roasted — a longer roasting time gives more polyphenols, so darker roasts, like Italian Roast coffee are generally more bitter than lighter ones. You’ll find less bitterness in naturally processed coffees because they don’t undergo much heat during processing; instead, they’re dried slowly at low temperatures.

Factors That Influence Coffee Flavor

Coffee is a complex beverage, and the flavor you get depends on many factors. Here are three of the most important factors:

The Bean Type

There are dozens of coffee beans, although they all fall into one of two categories: Robusta or Arabica. Robusta beans have more caffeine, although they taste harsher and are less aromatic than Arabica beans. Arabica beans are considered superior in taste because they’re lighter and milder than Robusta beans.

The Roast Level

Coffee roasts can range from light to dark brown and even black, depending on how long they’re cooked at high temperatures (usually 400 degrees Fahrenheit or above). The darker the roast level, the more intense the flavor will be because more oils are released from within each bean as it burns at higher temperatures during roasting.

A photo of roasting coffee beans

Grind Size

Grind size also impacts your brew’s flavor. Finely ground coffee will create more surface area than coarsely ground coffee, which means it will extract faster and more thoroughly than coarse grounds. If you use an espresso machine, you’ll want to use finely ground espresso beans for the best results.


Coffee beans come from different geographical regions around the world. The flavor of coffee from one region can vary dramatically from another. Central and South American beans are milder and more acidic than African or Asian beans.

How Much Milk for Great Tasting Coffee Latte

You should use about 2 ounces of whole milk for every cup of espresso. 

  • When possible, choose organic milk that does not contain growth hormones or antibiotics
  • Whole milk is also better than low-fat or skimmed milk because it contains more fat and tastes better than low-fat or skim milk when used in lattes
  • The fat content in whole milk also helps give the latte a creamier texture when served cold (like iced lattes)

Related Questions

How Do I Know if My Coffee Is Good?

You can tell whether your coffee is good by looking at its color. Freshly roasted coffee beans are greenish-brown and will turn darker as they age. The second thing to look for is the aroma. Roasted coffee should have a rich, earthy smell with hints of fruit such as plum or cherry if it were not over-roasted during processing or storage.

Which Flavored Coffee Tastes Great?

The most popular flavored coffees are vanilla and hazelnut flavors because they taste great and have no artificial ingredients added as other flavored coffees do. Other popular flavors include mocha (chocolate), raspberry, caramel, cherry, peppermint, and almond nutmeg.


What does good coffee taste like? Ideally, a cup of coffee should be sweet, fragrant, and have a balance of acidity. From fruity to chocolaty, coffee has several flavors and aromas. The acidity of good coffee makes up for its sweetness. Coffee will always taste bitter, although this shouldn’t be overpowering.