The world of coffee is a vast one with many different tastes and flavors. Most people think that all coffee has a certain taste to it, but there are actually varieties of coffee that have fruity notes in them.
These types of coffees can offer drinkers something new and unique from what they would normally experience when drinking their usual cup of Joe.
In the blog post I will go over some things you should know about these "fruity" tasting coffees as well as provide you with some recommendations on where to find them so you too can try this amazing coffee as well!
Why does coffee taste fruity?
The coffee bean is essentially the seed of the coffee cherry, a fruit in itself. It is also surrounded by a thin, soft membrane.
When the coffee cherries ripen and fall off the tree (the beans still inside), they dry out in direct sunlight for short periods of time. The drying causes them to soften, and it allows some of the oils inside the cherry to seep out.
Due to that back-and-forth between wet and dry conditions, there's a lot of opportunity for microbes (bacteria and fungi) on and around the cherry to interact with one another — their populations fluctuate between booms and busts — as well as with other chemicals at play during this process, including sugars from the fruit itself.
It's these chemical reactions that give coffee its unique flavor. The flavor that different microbes impart unto coffee beans can be described as chocolate-like, sour, nutty and often fruity.
All About the Roasting
However, if you brew green coffee as it is you won't get any of those flavours in your cup. It's the roasting process that brings out all these fruity flavours.
Raw coffee beans are naturally very bitter / tannic, but the darker you roast them the more the beans transform into caramelized sugar. This is one of the reasons why coffee drinkers can't really distinguish between different roasts by taste alone.
Roasting also triggers chemical changes in green coffee beans that creates even more flavors, including those fruity notes. The heat opens up the pores in the bean and carbon dioxide gas starts pushing out faster than it can escape through these openings. It's this high pressure inside that brings all that flavor to your cup when you brew your morning joe.
The Flavour Notes
Green coffee doesn't have very much taste, but green unroasted beans tend to be bitter. Roasting develops the flavours in green coffee and brings out other tastes like caramel or nuts.
The longer it's roasted (darker), the more intense the tastes become. Generally speaking, the lighter you roast your coffee bean, the milder it will taste; but if you want intense flavour notes like chocolate, berry etc., then take it really dark.
There are four major stages of roasting that can produce these different kinds of flavours:
Light (City) Roast
Has a soft acidity with hints of sweetness. Often described as floral by connoisseurs because this roast has a floral aroma to it. This roast is perfect as a base for any espresso shot as the slight acidity rounds out the flavour of the beans and brings out light hints of cocoa and nuts.
Has slightly more acidity than a light roast but not much, and it starts approaching body in taste. It will still have some sweetness to it and can be described as caramel-like by connoisseurs.
The longer you leave it in the roaster, chances are this is where your coffee's bean origin profile tastes its best because there isn't much difference between this roast and above/darker roasts.
This roast is just where it starts to get darker and you get into the second stage of roasting. It still has caramel notes but will start to get nutty at this point too. Most espressos that you see in coffee shops are a medium or dry roast because they have a rich body and a smoother taste.
Darker roasts tend to be a little acidic and often a bit bitter in taste, which can vary in degree depending on how dark it is roasted. However, the darker the roast gets, the less flavour notes make it through from bean origin profile because most of them will be replaced with richer "roasted flavours like chocolate or something along those lines.
Dark (Italian) Roast
This is the stage where you start to get chocolate notes and aromas because it's very dark, but this roast isn't quite at the point of charcoal yet. If you buy coffee beans in a market or even an unroasted green bean, chances are they will be one of these dark roasts because it has that rich body that people like to drink with milk or sugar.
The problem with drinking something at this roast range though is that many natural flavour notes have been burned out by heat so all you're left with is "roasted" flavours. It works well for espresso shots though if you want very strong flavour.
Fruity Tasting Coffees
Generally speaking it's the roasting process that brings out the flavours and aromas of the coffee bean so one would imagine that if the roaster chooses the right roast profile they will be able to bring out fruity, nutty or whatever other flavours they want from the coffee bean. But that's not correct!
Each coffee bean has its own characteristics and you can't do much about them. What they can do is to adjust the roast profile accordingly to get better results in relation to their goals. There are allegedly coffees from certain origins that are prone to having particular flavour characteristics. For example, most Ethiopian coffees have fruity flavour notes.
What I mean by fruity coffees is not the taste of fresh strawberries on your tongue, but rather a kind of sweet aroma that reminds one of such fruitiness. Whether this happens or not depends on many factors aside from roasting, like the terroir of the coffee farm, the climate, the altitude etc.
How to recognise if you are buying Fruity Coffee
The best way to know is by reading the label of the coffee bag. There you can find a lot of information like: the country of origin, what variety it is, the flavour notes and if that coffee is a blend or not. This is common when you are buying speciality coffee or at least premium coffee. You are not very likely to see this information on commodity coffee.
So, I would advise you to buy your coffee either from speciality coffee shops or directly from the roaster’s website if you have a favourite roaster. Many speciality coffee e-commerce businesses now offer a subscription as well, therefore you get amazing coffee on your doorstep whenever you need it.
If you are looking for a coffee that is not bitter, it might be time to give fruity tasting coffees a try. This article has provided some insight into what Fruity Coffee tastes like and how to recognise if your favorite drink is actually fruity!
It’s always good to know the type of flavor notes that are in your coffee before taking a sip. You never know when someone will break out with an unexpected surprise flavor profile on their menu!