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Sour Fermented – Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel


Like other drinks like beer, wine, and tea, coffee also brings many different flavor nuances. They contain a lot of different scents, rich and diverse. The flavor circle created by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) fairly fully describes coffee’s most common aroma ranges.

In the series of articles on taste perception in coffee, we will focus on exploiting the most and concretizing the scents on the Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel. In this article, we will develop more about sour flavors in coffee with the Sour/Fermented group.

Taste description of Sour/Fermented group


Sour coffee? Smells like yeast? Sometimes for those who are too used to using dark, fatty, and sweet traditional coffee, the appearance of sour states in coffee will cause discomfort. However, this is not a group of bad flavors in coffee.

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Even so, the sour/fermented flavor is a controversial attribute in Specialty Coffee. This group of flavours characterizes the sourness in coffee (acidity). Acidity can perfect or unbalance the harmony found in coffee. The flavor description of the Sour/Fermented group is the state of sour, alcohol or fermented notes in coffee.


How to develop Sour/Fermented flavor in coffee


Sour and fermented flavors in coffee are formed mainly during preliminary processing in the fermentation stage. With the research and improvement of processing quality, manufacturers have widely applied the fermentation method for coffee. There are two common fermentation methods: normal fermentation (for natural processing) and fermentation in cherry (usually applied to wet preliminary processing).

During the natural fermentation of coffee, different biological processes occur. In it, enzymes made by yeast and bacteria begin to break down the sugars in the mucilage. So, sugar breaks down lipids, proteins and acids and converts them into acidic alcohols. This changes the mucus’s smell, color, pH, and composition. This also ultimately affects the flavor development of the coffee, especially the Sour/Fermented hints.


List of Sour/Fermented scents in coffee



This is the aroma/flavor combined with pure sourness. The most common cause of sour coffee is the processing or extraction process. This is the primary group of elements related to the acid groups

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– Butyric acid: this description has an aroma and taste similar to that of aged cheeses such as Parmesan. This acid is present in light or extremely light-roasted coffees and will be destroyed as the coffee is roasted at a darker level.

– Acetic acid: this is considered an undesirable sour taste in coffee, quickly produced during uncontrolled fermentation. It has an appearance similar to a sour vinegar taste.

– Isovaleric acid: is characteristic of the aroma of Romano cheese, is uncommon in coffee and is produced during dark roasting.

– Citric acid: similar to those described in the Fruity group, but the status of this list is more inclined to the chemical characteristics of this group of acids than the natural ones such as lemons, oranges, etc.

– Malic acid: occurs naturally in the coffee plant – depending on the method of roasting and processing, it can enter the cup of coffee, indicative of a distinctive apple tart taste.


This subgroup describes the states of alcohol – a colorless, pungent, chemical-like aromatic substance associated with distilled spirits or grain products.

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– Winey: While this includes a wide range of wines, Cabernet Sauvignon is the wine often chosen to describe this note: crisp, lightly fruity and slightly intense.

– Fermented: can be associated with the smell of sourdough bread, fermented sugar or beer. Sometimes this flavor state will be found in a cold brew or aged coffee.

– Whiskey: considered a flavor worth looking for, you will drink a delicious cold brew if this scent appears in it. Recently there have been samples of coffee being fermented in Whiskey casks giving you a sense of this note more clearly than ever.

– Overripe: Coffee with this flavor note will be slightly sour, musty, moist and has a lingering taste with overripe fruit or vegetables.

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The ability to feel the taste of coffee comes from patient practice. Build yourself diverse memories of coffee flavors. From there, we will have a more sensitive enjoyment of our coffee products. 43 Factory Coffee Roaster values ​​the original taste and your experiences with it.

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