Coffee Terms – Roasty Sweet

26 Apr

So, this week’s coffee term is a particularly difficult one to wrap your head around. However, since it is one of the major descriptors of the coffee of the week, I thought I’d run with it.

I remember the first time I saw a coffee described as “Roasty Sweet,” my first thought was essentially the headline of my poster. I was pretty convinced that it was a made up thing that was used to describe something that had no other describable features.

It was my coffee master journey that helped me understand a little better, but even still, I had to consult my coffee master book for help with this one. Even still, it seems a little circular.

Essentially, Roasty Sweetness boils down to the sweetness of the caffeol (coffee oil) that is released during the roasting process.  A darker roast has more caffeol, so it is therefore sweeter to the taste.

Interesting side note – “Sweet” is not a flavor that can be tasted. Something cannot merely taste “sweet,” but can taste “sweet like” something, like sugar, or chocolate, or honey, etc. 

Anyway, Roasty Sweet is a term used typically to describe the darkest roasts available – they have been exposed to heat for the longest period of time, and therefore have more of the caffeol released, and therefore, more of the resulting sweetness. The coffee of the week for this poster was Italian Roast. Italian Roast has a sweetness reminiscent of chocolate, and goes really well with rich chocolate things.

When I led the tasting for this particular coffee with the group that I worked with, we used a brownie from our pastry case. Some day I hope to branch out and bring food from home – I have an excellent pairing that I discovered during my CM Certification that I really can’t wait to blog about. But for now, I work with what I have immediately in front of me. Once I get more people excited about trying coffee and finding awesome new things about it, it will be easier to justify the baking. 🙂

Anyway, the darker roasts are often a little bit difficult to love, especially for people who don’t drink coffee that often. That same roasting that brings out the “roasty sweetness” also has a habit of bringing out a bit of a smoky flavor (to be covered in a later blog), that many people simply cannot connect with. So this particular coffee is hard to get people excited about, but we managed to enjoy ourselves while trying this coffee and have a good time seeing the “roasty sweetness.”

My favorite part of this process so far is leading the tastings with the newer employees, and watching them grow from the initial “it smells like coffee. It tastes like COFFEE. I don’t get what you people are on,” to actually seeing them pick up some of the nuances. I will have more on that in a week or two, from a particularly good tasting this week.

Have a lovely week, and enjoy your coffee. 🙂


Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Uncategorized


2 responses to “Coffee Terms – Roasty Sweet

  1. Kienan

    April 27, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Another great post. It makes me a sad panda when people say it tastes, smells, etc. of coffee. Im glad youre educating your new people. It makes me smile.

    • kitenarie

      April 27, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      I find that you encounter it a lot, especially in people who are newer to coffee, or younger. We had someone start at our store who only drank chai, and at every tasting would literally say “it’s gross, I hate it.” So why work here? Needless to say, she didn’t last long.

      The best advice I can give when you encounter that is to tell the person that it’s normal and to just keep trying – they get it eventually, as long as it’s something they want. It’ll be part of your CM journey, too – the last 10 feet of the journey is getting your people as excited as you are (or at least more excited than they were, LOL).


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