How to describe coffee smell in writing?

In this article, we will answer the question:”How to describe coffee smell in writing?”. In addition, we will discuss how coffee aroma arises and its classifications, what factors influence it, the Flavor Wheel and much more.

How to describe coffee smell in writing?

We can describe the coffee aroma as floral, with a light touch of nuts, slightly smoky and herbaceous. If we are looking at a coffee that’s a little more citrusy, it will smell like fruits like lemons, apples, and oranges.

Coffee smell can be described in writing as the aroma made by volatile chemical compounds, exhaled by the beans after roasting and extraction, perceived by the nasal membranes. The aroma is so important that, if it weren’t for it, things would taste incomplete, as the olfactory system works with the taste buds all the time!

According to perfumery, the word “aroma” is generally associated with smells that refer to some flavor, while “fragrance” is related to things that cannot necessarily be tasted, such as wood, leaves or metal.

Usually, just smelling something is enough to deduce what it tastes like, have you noticed? With coffee it is no different; the aroma is in fact one of the main characteristics analyzed by tasters, as it helps in the identification of sensory notes.

Sensory notes are perceptions of flavors and smells found in coffee, classified by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) and cataloged in a graphic, the Wheel of Flavors.

The smell of coffee that hangs in the air and spreads throughout the environment, that one so unmistakable that you could smell it just by reading it… it’s definitely one of the great pleasures in life, isn’t it?

For most of those who feel that the day doesn’t start without a cup of coffee, this smell is really powerful.

What are the aromas of the coffee flavor wheel?

The aromas of the coffee flavor wheel are enzymatic aromas, caramelization aromas and dry distillation aromas. Enzymatic aromas: they are very volatile compounds (that is, they transform quickly and are easy to be perceived by the smell) and come from the maturation of the grain. 

They are usually accentuated when the fruit undergoes a slight fermentation, a process that happens especially between harvesting and drying. They produce floral, fruity and herbal aromas. In this range you can find citrus notes, aromas of apple, coriander, hibiscus, apricot, red fruits, etc.

Caramelization aromas: during roasting, the heat causes essential oils (very rich in aromatic compounds) to be extracted from within the beans, which is why roasted coffee has a slightly shiny appearance. The aromas highlighted at this stage tend to be caramel, chocolate, nuts, vanilla, honey …

Dry Distillation Aromas: during Pyrolysis, the initial stage of roasting, the coffee loses mass and moisture. Its color changes from green to light yellow and the smell of bread, cake, pasta takes over the environment. At this stage the grains can also develop Dry Distillation aromas, ranging from eucalyptus, cloves, black pepper, tobacco, thyme etc.

What influences the aroma of coffee?

The aroma of coffee is influenced by the roast, plant genetics and region’s characteristics. When talking about the Wheel of Flavors, it is very clear that roasting is essential for developing aromas in the beans. After all, if we drank an infusion of green coffee, the taste would have nothing to do with the coffee we are used to.

And, even before roasting, something just as important comes: the plant’s genetics! There are dozens of coffee varieties within the Arabica species alone, and each one directly influences the flavor (and aroma!) of the final drink.

The terroir of the region also says a lot about coffee, as the height in relation to the sea, the type of soil, climate and cultivation techniques in the region intervene in details that make a lot of difference, in the way the fruit absorbs nutrients, in the richness of flavor and much more.

Oh, and we can’t help but mention the freshness! It may take a while, but the coffee oxidizes. As it “ages”, the powder loses characteristics such as flavor and aroma, especially after grinding. So, the ideal for a very aromatic coffee is to get roasted beans up to one or two months before and, if possible, grind just when drinking!

How is the sensory analysis of coffee performed?

The sensory analysis of coffee is performed by the Q-Grader profession! Imagine living tasting coffees, tasting beans from all sides, each cup a new flavor… It’s fantastic work, but be careful!

To pursue a career, it is necessary to study theory and practice a lot, drink great coffees and others not so much, train your sense of smell and taste so that you can accurately identify the flavors of the Wheel. It is a huge responsibility, since the result of the evaluation directly influences the market value of the drink.


In this article, we answered the question:”How long do the effects of coffee last?”. In addition, we discussed how coffee aroma arises and its classifications, what factors influence it, the Flavor Wheel and much more.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.