Acidity 101

 

Acidity — often mistaken for acrid, bitter or pungent — is at the heart of the flavor chain.

In truth, acidity is the dry, bright, and sparkling sensation that sets a high-quality coffee from a mundane flat cup. Some call it snobbery, but it can be compared to nice wine or craft beer experiences.

Highly prized coffees are characterized by bright, nuanced qualities; quite often, they are unforgettable. When you have a mundane cup of coffee, your takeaway is nothing special.

What starts with Mother Nature lives on with expertise — or dies with careless roasting or disregard (commodity coffee production).

Scientifically, acidity is measured on the pH scale, which uses 7.0 as an indicator of neutrality, ratings under 7 are more acidic and above 7 are lower acid (referred to as basic). Lemon juice registers at about 2.0; milk 6.5. Very basic coffee (black) is about 5 pH.

As you get lower in pH, you will discover those "snobby" flavors from citrus to fruit and florals. Acidity and complexity go hand in hand in single-origin specialty coffee. Even savory flavors like nuts and malt are part of the acidic wheel of flavors.

SCA's flavor wheel

Acidity 101

 

Acidity — often mistaken for acrid, bitter or pungent — is at the heart of the flavor chain.

In truth, acidity is the dry, bright, and sparkling sensation that sets a high-quality coffee from a mundane flat cup. Some call it snobbery, but it can be compared to nice wine or craft beer experiences.

Highly prized coffees are characterized by bright, nuanced qualities; quite often, they are unforgettable. When you have a mundane cup of coffee, your takeaway is nothing special.

What starts with Mother Nature lives on with expertise — or dies with careless roasting or disregard (commodity coffee production).

Scientifically, acidity is measured on the pH scale, which uses 7.0 as an indicator of neutrality, ratings under 7 are more acidic and above 7 are lower acid (referred to as basic). Lemon juice registers at about 2.0; milk 6.5. Very basic coffee (black) is about 5 pH.

As you get lower in pH, you will discover those "snobby" flavors from citrus to fruit and florals. Acidity and complexity go hand in hand in single-origin specialty coffee. Even savory flavors like nuts and malt are part of the acidic wheel of flavors.

SCA's flavor wheel