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What have fruit and chocolate got to do with coffee? Rob Butterworth of Bury St Edmunds-based Butterworth & Son explains. . .

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Strawberries, chocolate, tea and apple are all flavours we know well, but what are they doing in my coffee?

Coffee, like wine, is grown and processed in many ways – the local climate, the altitude, variety, processing and brew methods can all impact on how the coffee tastes in the cup.

Coffee flavours (aka tasting notes) can sometimes be subjective and can also vary slightly depending on how one brews and certainly the ability of the cupper to translate taste to description.

Flavour wheel (42487628)
Flavour wheel (42487628)

Flavour wheels can help understand how one describes coffee, but there are a few main characteristics that are common throughout tasting coffee, which, for best results, is done black.


Also described as mouthfeel. This description applies to the way the coffee acts in your mouth. Does it feel thick or thin and slightly watery? Try our Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Aramo for a full bodied coffee.


Coffee can have lots of natural sweetness, different processes like naturals/dry and honey will really show off the natural sugars. Try our Peru Shora Community honey process or the Finca Villaure from Guatemala.


Often attributed to fruit notes in coffee and can be described as brightness of flavour. Longer

roast times/higher brew temperatures will destroy these flavours. High altitude coffees like Kenyan coffees, especially Peaberries, have greater acidic notes. Our Kenya Ichamama Peaberry is an excellent example of a high acidity coffee.


There are bitter elements to all coffees, caffeine on it’s own is very bitter and Robusta (higher caffeine content) can contribute to this. Incorrect brewing (over extraction, water and coffee are in contact for a prolonged period) will enhance bitterness.


The characteristics of acidity, sweetness, body are all apparent, but none overpower the other. Try our Peru Tunki for balance.


The characteristic that keeps on giving. Great coffee flavours should linger for ages, if the coffee flavours dissipate quickly this can be a sign of poor quality coffee. The lingering flavours should also be pleasant and not sour (a sign of under extraction or defects). Try our excellent women growers’ coffee from the COIBA co-op available in FOLK and Applaud cafés exclusively throughout October, then on general release.

All the coffees mentioned above are available via our website and Butterworth stockists.

Rob owns Butterworth & Son coffee roasters and tea smiths, based on Moreton Hall

His job takes him around the world visiting coffee farms to source great coffees.

See butterworthandson.co.uk