Need a little help with terminology


New member
Dec 23, 2004
Atlanta, Georgia
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First off, I'm a long-time coffee drinker looking to retrain and "expand" my palate. I've been a big fan of Starbucks mostly because it's easy to get around here and I enjoy the taste. I've thought about trying new beans and find that, almost without exception, the coffee I buy elsewhere is less pleasant to drink. I assume that like most things in life, the things that are truly good are not necessarily the ones that we like outright. Truly exceptional things (art, music, wine) require a reconditioning that will allow us to appreciate them and often after the reconditioning process it's hard to imagine how we found pleasure in our uneducated and untrained tastes. I'm ready for the reconditioning process!

I'll get to the point... I realize that Starbucks is not the preeminent coffee producer and would enjoy a discovery tour that would refine my tastes and help me learn more about and appreciate the art that is coffee.

I know very well what I like, but don't know the terminology to describe it and therefore have a hard time finding coffees I would like because I don't know the lingo. My favorite Starbucks bean is their summer Ethiopian Yergacheffe. Does anyone know the bean and how to describe its taste using the acidity/roast/body terminology? I would like to find a similar bean as a starting point. I thought a balanced dark roast would be right for me and purchased a pound of Major Dickason's blend (Peets) and was disappointed – it seemed very ordinary to me. I want something extraordinary without needing to go to extremes. Any help anyone can provide would be very much appreciated.
Hello and welcome Timothy. I would suggest you try some lighter roasted coffees. With a lighter roast much of the unique tastes from origin, as well as the sugar content of the beans remain. The darker the roast, the less these characteristics will come to the fore when you are cupping the coffee. You are certainly right though- often once we find a coffee we like we tend to use that as a benchmark- perhaps overlooking some excellent coffees in the process. As I am not in the US I will leave it to some of the other posters to recommend some blends, origins and roasters to experiment with. Good luck!


New member
Dec 20, 2004
boulder, co
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hello. i'm fairly new to roasting, and have found to be really informative. the reviews of different beans goes far beyond what you would consider a thurough review.
also, somethign to think about. i feel that to truly find the tast of the coffee you are drinking it has to be fresh. drinking a brew over a week after it has been roasted will yield such a different experience. try fresh roasts, keep a journal, and try several different regions and roasts. drink up!
Could not agree more pan_man. Tom and the crew at Sweet Marias are a top resource for not only home roasters, but newbies keen to learn more about coffee. The offerings section has detailed cupping notes that should be useful to you. You can even buy roasted beans from Tom...then cup them at home with the notes to help you out with identifying characteristics in the cup. Have fun! :grin: