This is why you don’t like coffee. Learn how to drink it

Learning to enjoy an espresso like a Pro and appreciating all its aromatic nuances is an art. It’s not enough to prepare the coffee correctly; you must also know how to taste it. All this involves paying attention to details such as the environment, the aroma, the flavor, and the texture.

➡️ In this article, you will find all the steps to drink an espresso coffee correctly and understand its characteristics.

How to drink espresso coffee like an expert

Drinking espresso is a multisensory experience that involves every sense in our body, and I will teach you what to consider to make the most of it.

1. The environment

The tasting location is important, as it should be neutral, meaning without loud noises, with direct lighting, and without intense or unpleasant odors in the environment. The environment is important.

Our sense of smell can influence our judgment, as can our hearing.

In a tasting experiment, I had to taste three types of coffee blindfolded. The first time I did it with classical music in the background, the second time with rock music, and finally without music. Proud of recognizing each of the characteristics, I gave three very different descriptions. In the end, I discovered that it was the same coffee.

2. Prepare your mouth

Prepare your mouth with a glass of natural water. This will help cleanse your mouth and refresh your palate. Thus, you can correctly enjoy the flavor of the espresso.

3. Sight

The first sense we use is sight. It is important to observe the espresso closely and check that the cream has a nice hazelnut color.

If you notice that the cream is lighter than normal, the coffee has not been extracted enough, and the grind is probably too coarse. Therefore, the flavor will be sour and flat, with little taste.

If, on the contrary, it is too dark, it means that the coffee is over-extracted and that the grind is too fine. The flavor will be bitter with burnt nuances.

To understand it better, here’s a photo: in the first cup on the left, the cream is too light and would be that of an under-extracted coffee. In the last cup on the right, the cream is too dark and would be that of an over-extracted coffee. The one in the middle, on the other hand, is a correct cream.

Comparison of three different espresso cream results
Comparison of three different espresso cream results

NOTE: The cream of an espresso should be shiny; that is, it should reflect light and be smooth, that is, without bubbles.

That said, we must understand that the cream of our espresso is an important element in its preparation, as it acts as a barrier that retains aromas. If the cream is not formed properly or has holes, the flavors will disperse and not be correctly perceived on our palate.

Therefore, paying attention to its quality is essential to enjoy a complete and satisfying taste experience.

What should the cream of a perfect espresso look like?

The cream of a perfect espresso is hazelnut-colored, with some slightly reddish streaks, compact, shiny, silky, and without microbubbles.

There are two types of cream:

  1. Arabica produces a finer cream but is much more silky, shiny, compact, and persistent.
  2. Robusta produces a thicker cream but settles or lowers in seconds because it is full of gases that make it less persistent over time. Also, the surface is wavy, almost rough.

➡️ Therefore, it is not true that the cream of a perfect espresso is the highest.

4. Smell

Break the crema with a spoon and bring the cup close to your nose, close your eyes, and ask yourself two questions:

  • Do I smell a lot or a little? If you smell a lot, the coffee has a high aromatic intensity; if you smell a little, the coffee has a low intensity.
  • Are the aromas I smell good or bad? Only after evaluating the intensity should you focus on its quality.

Positive aromas can be: chocolate, cocoa, nuts, flowers, fruit, citrus, bread crust, caramel, honey, and many more.

Negative aromas can be: wood, earth, hay, ash, tar, rubber, mold, grass, mushrooms, etc.

I know, it’s not easy to recognize them, it requires study and training, but don’t give up and try anyway. Gradually, you will feel them more and more.

5. Taste

Take a small sip, something like you would when having soup (inhaling). This way, you can distribute the drink better throughout the mouth, thanks to the air, amplifying the flavor.

Focus on these points:

  • Acidity: Do you feel a sharp and piercing acidity, a softer one, or none? Generally, medium or light roast coffees are more acidic than dark roasts, and Arabica coffees are more acidic than Robustas. Acidity is a great quality in coffee, allowing us to develop a wide and pleasant aromatic range.
  • Sweetness: perhaps the hardest to recognize at first because we are used to seeing espresso as a bitter drink. But if you smell aromas of fruits or flowers, they may lead you to sweetness.
  • Bitterness: How bitter is the coffee? Do you detect aromas of cocoa or dark chocolate? Does it linger on the palate for a long time or disappear quickly, and is it smooth, never overwhelming, and unpleasant? Generally, dark roast coffees are more bitter than medium or light roasts, and Robusta coffees are more bitter than Arabica. Too intense bitterness that forces you to use sugar or dilute the coffee with milk is a defect.
  • Astringency: is a sensation like eating an unripe banana, as if the mouth dries up from saliva and feels a bit gritty. This feeling is a defect and should not be felt.
  • Aroma: Do you find positive or negative aromas? Can you identify any?

6. Body

How is the body also used for taste? Swirl the coffee between your tongue and palate and concentrate.

The more friction, texture, and viscosity you feel, the more body the coffee has. To understand better, water has no body; oil has a medium body, and hot chocolate has a lot of body.

The body of an espresso can be defined as velvety or soft if it has little body, round if it is medium, and, finally, robust and consistent when the coffee has a lot of body.

7. Final step: aftertaste

Concentrate on the sensations that remain on your palate and in your nose. Ask yourself if they are pleasant or unpleasant. Are they intense, or did they disappear immediately within a few minutes?

The aftertaste should be pleasant and should last a few minutes; you should not have the feeling of wanting to drink water to get rid of an unpleasant bitterness.


To taste an espresso coffee, it is always best to do it away from meals. You should not have eaten spicy or too salty foods beforehand so that the sensory organs of the mouth can easily perceive all the aromas. If you have, drink a glass of water.

The taste of a quality cup will be sweet, with a pleasant acidity and little bitterness. We perceive the body of the coffee in the palate; a quality espresso will be smooth and round, silky; it should never be astringent or leave the mouth dry. Finally, consider the crema, which should be hazelnut-colored.

Now, all that remains is for you to try as many coffees as possible to have a clear criterion in mind.

Written by Pablo Barrantes Nevado
I am Pablo Barrantes, a coffee lover. I decided to start this website to solve all the doubts that arise every day when preparing our favorite drink: coffee. I am an industrial engineer by profession, but I have worked in coffee shops for many years, where I have learned all the secrets about coffee machines and coffee. My passion for coffee has led me to investigate and study beyond the obvious, and thanks to this, I can offer solutions and give news about coffee and coffee makers. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I research, document and write here.

Leave a Comment