"Mouthfeel" in coffee - what is that exactly?

What is this mouthfeel that coffee connoisseurs keep talking about?

The “mouthfeel” is the complex, haptic sensory impression of food.

With the tongue, rather than the palate, we investigate the nature of the food or liquid.

The term “mouthfeel” is a somewhat unfortunate loan translation from the English mouthfeel.

The texture used in wine sensor technology describes the same effect as the mouthfeel and can easily be replaced in its place.

The differences in haptic sensory impressions between crispbread, oysters and dough are enormous. 

The vocabulary to describe these differences is also very broad: crisp, slippery, tough, etc.

It’s different with coffee. Coffee as a drink is liquid and thus the broad spectrum of intensity is limited: thin – liquid – thick. 

Instead of going broadly, we have to go into depth here and describe the quality of the intensity in order to communicate coffee. 

From tea-like, silky, velvety, juicy, to round, creamy, syrupy, etc., we have a wide range of descriptions available.

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Some factors that affect mouthfeel

Numerous factors are jointly responsible for the drink. 

The ripeness of the coffee cherry, its preparation, the way in which we roast the coffee and its resulting solubility – short-roasted coffees are generally less soluble than longer-roasted coffees.

The substances now dissolved by the extraction are partly responsible for the quality of the mouthfeel. 

The water used also plays a major role here, as the composition of the minerals contained in the water react with the coffee and thus work out soluble substances.

tongue taste zones

Mouthfeel and perception

The texture of coffee has a significant impact on our perception. 

If coffee has a syrup-like consistency and lingers longer on the tongue, I also have more time to analyze the coffee.

The flavours seem more intense. 

If, on the other hand, a watery coffee disappears quickly from the tongue, there are fewer dissolved substances in it. 

The low intensity and their short dwell time mean that the taste notes are not sufficiently perceptible.

The quality of the mouthfeel plays an important role in the sensory assessment of a coffee. 

Even if the coffee has great aromas and complex acids – if the mouthfeel does not go along with it, the coffee is less enjoyable and the taste notes less legible.

Since many terms in coffee sensor technology come from Anglo-Saxon (not least due to the basic work of the SCAA – Specialty Coffee Association of America), the term has established itself.

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