A Beginners Guide to Coffee Tasting

  • Published on Aug 8, 2019
  • Get the Tasting Guide pdf here: bit.ly/HoffmannCoffeePDF & get 2 months of Skillshare Premium for free here: skl.sh/jameshoffmann2
    I hope this video is useful - I look forward to your feedback!
    "Nothing Scares Us (Instrumental)" by Super Duper
    Get 30 days of free music from MusicBed here: share.mscbd.fm/jimseven

Comments • 297

  • kentuckyfried meatballs

    I just wanna say I never had coffe but I want to have it in my schedule but I don’t like the taste of it but I want to find my taste what flavor would u describe my taste?, I want it to taste like sweet ,hot chocolate,strong , energetic,. Like a hot monster energy with a chocolate taste but turned down a couple dials . Plz tell me soon

  • Piyush Nigam
    Piyush Nigam Day ago

    Great video. Totally essential for someone getting serious about their coffee for the first time...

  • Yeng Sabio
    Yeng Sabio 6 days ago +1

    "Coffee is a moving target."
    It is indeed! As such, it brings forth diversity of experience having sipped coffee out of many cups.

  • Ricky Ng
    Ricky Ng 9 days ago

    My first time having esprssso at a third wave shop, I had a very bright sour esprssso. It wasn't my favorite by any stretch. But about two minutes after finishing it, I got an intemse strawberry taste. It's probably the most fruity espresso I've had so far.

    • Ricky Ng
      Ricky Ng 6 days ago +1

      @Yeng Sabio lol aw okay. Yeah light roasts tend to be more acidic and fruity. Darker roasts are more caramel and cocoa notes.

    • Yeng Sabio
      Yeng Sabio 6 days ago

      @Ricky Ng I'm from the Philippines! I had this experience of a very sour espresso probably similar to your experience & I did not like it one bit. It was too acidic for my taste. Quite unusual indeed given that I've already had lots of espresso from various cafés around my place.
      As to fruitiness, I always detect it in light brews! Those fruity aftertastes are a delight!
      Thanks for sharing your experience! For me, coffee is one of the best things I have & experience in life. Beer is another, hahaha!

    • Ricky Ng
      Ricky Ng 6 days ago

      @Yeng Sabio it was their house blend for espresso. The cafe is called Theory Collaborative in Redding, CA. Two coffee roasters decided to merge and out came this tiny cafe but the coffee is no joke. I believe they have about 5 different coffees for sale that they rotate for daily drip coffee. They roast with a Gene Cafe in the back.

    • Yeng Sabio
      Yeng Sabio 6 days ago

      Was it a blend? Or a single variety?

  • saikanonojutsu
    saikanonojutsu 15 days ago

    Maillard has really come into the public lexicon in the past few years, I think we can use it more liberally now. Thanks foodtube for that.

  • heart breaker rotten
    heart breaker rotten 17 days ago

    i am new to coffee your videos help so much

  • musixmylyfe
    musixmylyfe 18 days ago

    I’m so happy you said that a lot of people find those descriptors frustrating! I’m really into pour over but I was never able to taste the “cherry cola, 3 day old oak barrel during a full moon etc..” I’ll keep working on it though. Today my coffee tastes like plums/apples. I think it’s good to hear these being listed off as you drink. Well anyways, thanks so much for this channel and keep up the amazing work :)

  • Emil Lu
    Emil Lu 22 days ago

    Hi James, how’s Quality of Roasting play the role in terms of cupping? One reason for cupping is used to select Green Beans. Knowing that different Roasters process green beans differently, according to styles
    trying to present. Whether hiding/magnifying some specific characters. Is there a Standard Roasting Method designed for cupping so, we can look into the qualities of green beans more equally?

  • Lauriti
    Lauriti 22 days ago

    I hate it when I order a coffee and they give me an extremely bitter or sour acid and burnt like coffee.
    I hate it that I can't find the coffee I make at home anywhere. A large cup of dark and slightly bitter , but strong MUG. Basically I hate esspresos lol, but yeah.

    • Angel Arroyo
      Angel Arroyo 20 days ago

      Try black rifle coffee company. Really good coffee, that tastes really smooth. It’s strong but with no bitterness at all, doesn’t taste burnt at all not even their dark roasts

  • Ulysse
    Ulysse 24 days ago +4

    11:36 "pick up one or two things, to take into my everyday cocain"

  • Keith Munson
    Keith Munson 26 days ago

    This probably won't get notices but thanks so much for the bitter/sour information. Going back a while now but I was back in the UK around Christmas 2010 and bought a pack of Square Mile coffee - I think it was a Christmas special berry blend that you did at the time. I made espressos with my 70s Bezerra family lever (still a daily driver) and loved it. My dad however just complained about bitterness which I couldn't understand as I found none of it.
    Today (well, 4 months ago) the man who potentially roasted that coffee so long ago explains it to me!

  • Genda1ph
    Genda1ph 27 days ago

    It's surprising how "we as an industry don't talk about bitterness". I dislike acidity and love bitterness, so I chased low-acidity high-bitterness coffee, until I found something that suited me. But I still try new coffees and experiment.
    But this perspective does answer some of my questions I had.

  • Tad Barker
    Tad Barker Month ago

    We can all see the bottle of Kahlua in the background .... 😆

  • 9995202043
    9995202043 Month ago +1


  • Sampan Spirits
    Sampan Spirits Month ago

    I love bitterness and severely dislike acidity. My main roast is a 100% Robusta (very dark roast, think of Vietnamese coffee without the condensed milk). I'd love to get an episode about the different levels of bitterness... Everybody is getting hyped on acidity instead :-(

  • Amirhosein Herandy
    Amirhosein Herandy Month ago

    You don't like mushrooms? :D

  • Alexis Form
    Alexis Form Month ago

    Interesting comments on bitterness and shame: 17:36

  • David Barnes
    David Barnes 2 months ago

    The detail in your videos is a pleasure. However you appear to be missing the biggest detail of all. If you are not using distilled water you really are missing out. Every taste you have described will be a cleaner taste and much more apparent. It is night and day. Without the main ingredient being pure you might as well be using pond water. And as a bonus your kettle or coffee machine will never ever in its entire lifetime need to be descaled. Win win situation. For all of you who have an eye for detail then whether you are using tap water or filtered or reverse osmosis your taste buds deserve the purest form of all water which is distilled. Your coffee will only ever be at its best if it is suspended in pure un contaminated water.

  • Alvin Jiang
    Alvin Jiang 2 months ago +4

    Why I felt that I just gone through a therapist trying to fix me up on a relationship, well with coffee 😳

  • what
    what 2 months ago

    I'd say sweetness in coffee, relates more to the taste (i.e. it's tasty to the consumer, it's sweet. Like something that cannot be tasted, is said to be sweet), rather than sensation, as in literal sweets, candy, dessert. This is the pseudo philosophical aspect. If we approach from a chemical standpoint, it's the other way around, coffee becomes sweet through the sensation, through the "eyes" of the drinker, rather than through taste, which is the case in candy and dessert, which is that way because of chemistry and biology

  • Jisoo Speaku
    Jisoo Speaku 2 months ago


  • stacy packer
    stacy packer 2 months ago

    Love your videos. Definitely helping me make a better cup of coffee. Planning on doing a tasting when I start roasting my beans this week.

  • Emmi
    Emmi 2 months ago +1

    I feel like I’ve found a friend to help me on my barista journey. Thank you

  • Stu Dunn
    Stu Dunn 2 months ago +4

    When James posts a video I do not know, or care, where the adventure will take me, I just strap in and enjoy the ride.

  • Angela Buenafe
    Angela Buenafe 2 months ago

    Been rough lately and from watching your videos for consecutive days ( as anything about coffee brings me so much relief ), there is one detail in your contents/ videos that actually I want to point out: Your tagline,
    I just realize now how very, very simple but to me the most sincere.
    So yeah,
    I hope we all do.

  • Andrew
    Andrew 2 months ago

    The most entertaining descriptor I saw on a bag of coffee was a particular variety of wild berry specific to one country.... Yes. This is a taste note I can relate to...

  • Byron Sosa GT
    Byron Sosa GT 2 months ago

    James, you are simply awesome. You have this way to easy understand what you mean by simplifying it. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Cheers from Guatemala.

  • Dan Hounsell
    Dan Hounsell 2 months ago

    Not a lot of this is new, per se, but it's good to be reminded about a lot of these points. I also like the fact that I can use some of these pointers for things like Scotch, beer, and hot sauce tasting. Great video again!

  • Scardon
    Scardon 2 months ago

    I'm not picky when it comes to coffee, where should I start to develop a taste?

  • RMA A
    RMA A 2 months ago

    Thank you for taking the time to make this video you're awesome 🙏

  • Jonathan Gibbs
    Jonathan Gibbs 2 months ago

    I'm surprised there's no Aeropress video on this channel. Love your work James

  • 1959Berre
    1959Berre 2 months ago

    I really like your video. When I drink coffee, I taste coffee, period. No fruit, no strawberry, no pineapple, no mango, no pineapple, nor onion for that matter. Just coffee in all its variety of 'coffeeness' . It can taste strong or weak or bitter or sour, or muddy, or whatever, but never fruit. If some day my coffee would taste like strawberry, that would be the end of me drinking coffee.

  • A Y
    A Y 3 months ago

    I was waiting to see you drink that coffee and say describe it but you didn’t lol but I did learn something from you. Thank you!

  • Tony
    Tony 3 months ago

    Excellent video!

    LA CARS 3 months ago +1

    James feels like he could have an interesting conversation with anybody. Ever going to do a meetup, @james hoffman?

  • Patsesson
    Patsesson 4 months ago +1

    These videos are so valuable to beginners who are into coffee :) !! Thank you!

  • cinc cinc
    cinc cinc 4 months ago

    I’m confused about the bitter and sourness as well. So how can I tell the difference ? Thank you 😊

  • Jun Yoo
    Jun Yoo 4 months ago

    the title is A Beginners Guide to Coffee Tasting but you have to watch the first video.....hm....

  • HululusLabs
    HululusLabs 4 months ago +34

    For the sweetness you're referring to; in Chinese we have a phrase called 回甘 (huí gān) or just the word 甘 (gān) used to specifically describe a non-sugary sweetness, a sort of pleasant and sweet lingering aftertaste typically associated with tea.

    • David Wan
      David Wan Month ago

      Rosie my love 我也是在墨尔本,只是觉得墨尔本的咖啡好好喝,但具体都说不上来😂

    • Rosie my love
      Rosie my love 2 months ago +1

      HululusLabs 真的嘛?!我现在在墨尔本 去好多有名的咖啡厅喝过各种产地的各种处理方法的豆子做的手冲、batch brew 或者奶咖 唉还是喝不出来那些丰富的风味

    • HululusLabs
      HululusLabs 2 months ago +1

      @Rosie my love 我以前也是,但现在找到好的豆就有了!

    • Rosie my love
      Rosie my love 2 months ago +1


  • Fidasaind
    Fidasaind 4 months ago

    Since armoa can be such a large part of taste, why aren't there more fluted shapes in cups and mugs for drinking coffee? More than once I've thought about pulling down a Glencairn for a coffee (rather than a whisky) and wondering what that would do (other than leave my fingers a touch warm due to no handle).
    Also amusing to hear the way cupping is described vs something I'm a bit more used to.. tasting a whisky. Pour 1-2 oz and just sitting with it for minutes (maybe even approaching an hour). A B comparisons in coffee would take me a bit more work since I do home roasting and that means I'm roasting 2+ batches at the same time (normally I do 0.5 or 1 lb at a time and use that batch til it is gone or down to say 25-35g of beans and then do my next batch). I rarely have multiple roasts on hand as much because my roasting machine generally likes to do 1 batch and fully cool down before I go again. And by that point, I'm usually not interested in starting up again (especially this time of year... summer in Phoenix, AZ means I have to lug my Behmor outside to deal with the chaff and shake my drum while it can be well over 100 degrees F outside).
    But maybe the next time I have say enough beans for a single cup and roast the next batch the night before, I should try it. At least one I guess I could do is compare same beans but different brewing. Say Bonmac vs V60 vs Chemex vs Aeropress. Maybe instead of doing an entire pound of beans, do half a pound and then say 2 or 3 days later do the other half. And see how the extra rest changes things (generally I seem the enjoy the flavors I get from about 12-48 hours after a roast the most.... but is that just in my head? Or is there no difference? Maybe since I use 1 roast until it is gone, I just acclimate to that batch and things that felt so striking the first few cups I am just used to until the roast is gone and I am on to the next one). Maybe try a ceramic mug, vs double walled vs get weird and try either wine glass or even a Glencairn. I guess those are ways I could compare things without necessarily needing to fire up the roaster twice in a row.

  • alrafter
    alrafter 4 months ago +1

    What a load of bullshit, I gave up after a couple of minutes. Just drink the stuff, you either like it or not.

  • suzu
    suzu 4 months ago +1

    james, thank you for making this video! as someone who is very new and wants to thoroughly enjoy exploring coffee, you are a godsent. Your explanation is clear, objective, clear and logical. I'll see if I can write down the score of every coffee I drank!
    (I started my first cup a week ago, singaraja bali, and since then my perception on coffee drinking changes. It's super acidic, no lingering aftertaste, no bitterness, the color is red. Not like coffee at all! It surprised me because I only know coffee tastes like bitter-burnt-cheap-sachet-robusta beverage. I want to try another bean so I go to starb*cks, but I'm quickly overwhelmed with those weird descriptions. I honestly thought they really tasted like mango or strawberry. turns out only (as you've said in your vid) it's just - more or less - "level of acidity". So, thanks a lot for the lecture! It really helps me, and of course, many others who watch your video!

  • John Morgan
    John Morgan 4 months ago

    The description of acidity and sweet didn’t define and describe it. You talked around the definition and true descriptions. I still don’t know what acidity and sweetness are.

  • Eelco
    Eelco 4 months ago

    Great video, and a great guide to taste coffee...but🤔I can't open the PDF, do more people have this problem?

  • M4tth3wh
    M4tth3wh 5 months ago

    Appreciate the videos you produce. Rewatched this one again tonight. RE: bitterness; wondering how much acidity (perceived or otherwise) / water salts balances out bitter elements in coffee? Would like to hear more about this topic particularly because as you say bitterness is seen as such a negative in specialty coffee. Got me thinking about chocolate truffles rolled in cocoa you get that magic combo of bitter / sweet / fats working well together. Keep on doing the great work.

  • Lauren Genovese
    Lauren Genovese 5 months ago

    Hi James! I haven't had a chance to finish this video yet as I have to run, so please feel free to share a time stamp if you answer this question in the video - but my current tasting issue is having the ability to be able to distinguish between enzymatic/bright flavors in coffee, and a sour/underextracted taste. I work with a lot of coffees that are very light, and often have citrus flavor notes like tangerine, lemon, etc. A lot of times, when dialing in, I struggle to distinguish between bright and sour. Any tips?

  • Hector Torres
    Hector Torres 5 months ago

    If you (for some reason) are in Tijuana, you should checkout "farniente" they have some amezing coffee

  • Richard Macchia'tho
    Richard Macchia'tho 5 months ago

    @jimseven Will the cupping sheet you explained here benefit with the World Largest Coffee Cupping event.
    Also while I know it is not mandatory, do you recommend that we watch this, and the first video in the interim, before your live event on September 21st.

  • Emi Yu
    Emi Yu 5 months ago

    Awesomely explained :)

  • Kaje Simpson
    Kaje Simpson 5 months ago

    Will you do a coffee science video about what a crema actually is? I want to know the process, the chemistry, ways that you can influence that, or change its taste. All the nerdy stuff!
    Also, in your cupping video, you scooped the crema off the top, why?

  • d L
    d L 5 months ago

    Hi James, such pleasure to watch your videos.
    A question, why arent we measuring our brews with Brix meter?

  • rtp737
    rtp737 5 months ago +3

    I’ve always been a coffee lover, but by watching your videos I am discovering a whole new Coffee Universe. Thanks.

  • robsreality
    robsreality 5 months ago +2

    I'm just getting into home roasting, and generally appreciating coffee more.
    Just wanted to let you know that your videos are fantastic. You're the helping hand I was looking for
    Thank you!

  • Kinzoku Shirogane
    Kinzoku Shirogane 5 months ago

    I tried 2 different kinds of light roast and both had a kind of earthy, wood kind of taste, a bit hard to describe but it was a unique and quite nice taste. The two had very similar taste but one was significantly stronger than the other, but both pleasant nonetheless.

  • Gordon Laing
    Gordon Laing 5 months ago

    Excellent work, thanks!

  • Was Rio
    Was Rio 5 months ago

    James can you do a video on professional cupping to score specialty coffee. In particular 80+ 90+ cup of excellence etc

  • Was Rio
    Was Rio 5 months ago +2

    this is the single biggest difficulty in thev specialty coffee arena. the second I mention acidity and sweetness the customer immediately misinterperates what im describing. oh well we continue on evangelising our love of coffee

  • Daniel Karlsson
    Daniel Karlsson 5 months ago

    I just tried a Ethiopian coffee light/medium roast. Beans: Arabica-natural heirloom. Region: oromia alt. 1800-1950 masl. Farmer: gigesa washing station. Notes: sweet and juicy with strawberry and raspberry. Roasted 5 August 2019.
    To me this tasted almost like salami is this the sourness I'm tasting?
    I brewed it in my filter moccamaster one cup.
    Next time I'm testing it in my aeropress to see if it taste differently.

  • CuatroCuerdas Mx
    CuatroCuerdas Mx 5 months ago +1

    Almost 20 minutes for beginners guide? No thanks.

  • Luke M Perez
    Luke M Perez 5 months ago

    This might be your best video, and it reminds me of some Gary Vaynerchuck’s old Wine Library TV videos in that it democratizes the categories and flavors. I learned how to cup 16 years ago when I worked as a barista at a shop in LA. Rarely do I cup anymore but having learned to describe what I taste, ive been able to enjoy premium coffee at home or out so much better.