I have been roasting coffee for years now at home. I definitely can pick out overall coffee differences (body, acidity, astringency, fruited, etc.) but when I read ratings and notes from my provider (Sweet Marias), I see very specific and distinct note descriptions of flavor that I don't necessarily get. Also coffees being 'sweet' is very subjective to me (I like pourover black but espresso sweetened). By themselves, I do not find most coffees particularly sweet in the way of fruit or sugar or caramel (from lightest to darkest roasts).

Is there a way I should be preparing my roasted coffees to notice nuances and pick out sweetness?

  • A very nice question. It is said that there are elite blenders. I never ever met with one of them.
    – MTSan
    Apr 15, 2016 at 11:13

2 Answers 2


A well sourced coffee that has been properly roasted and brewed can be amazingly sweet. It's not the same kind of sweetness of cane sugar, but maybe milk is a better example. Milk is not entirely sweet when cold, but as soon as you heat it to around 130F, it's turns deliciously sweet. In any event, you will want a lighter roasted coffee. I think it can be a strange transition for people's pallets, especially for people that have been drinking a darker roasted coffee their whole lives, it becomes hard to identify a light coffee with the "coffee taste." A lighter roasted coffee preserves the sugars within the coffee, and brings out the wonderful acids and flavors that come from the fact that coffee is indeed the seed of a fruit. I think if I was you, I would purchase some coffee from a specialty coffee roaster (like: verve, ritual, 49 parallel, Intelligencia) and see if one of them really amazes you in any way, and then try and achieve that same roast profile. Other then that, don't always take those taste profiles to heart! They can certainly be different for anyone, and some often pretty silly.

Good luck!


I think it simply develops with experience.

Bear in mind that typically those cupping notes are often written down as they carry out (hopefully) systematic cupping sessions. I wouldn't expect those distinct note descriptions to match up entirely unless you were going through the same cupping technique. Various brew methods will accentuate (dare I say alter) different qualities of coffee, and I think the coffee cupping method is the most efficient way to present varying coffee's eccentricities. A filtered coffee may "rob" you of the body they talk about, and a percolator will rob you of, well, everything (I jest).

Someone who spends a lot of time cupping and then employing different brew methods is best positioned to say how a berry-like coffee might taste like as an espresso vs as a black chemex. BTW, I'm the same with my black pourover coffee vs sweetened espresso, but I must say that I couldn't evaluate nuances even in black pour-over coffee until I started to learn to enjoy it without sugar.

  • Welcome to Coffee SE, please feel free to take the tour.
    – MTSan
    Apr 22, 2016 at 12:53

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