Mouthfeel« Back to Glossary Index
Some call it body, but that is an illusive quality to describe without an understanding of how to judge body. Well it’s all about mouthfeel.
The body sensation of a coffee beverage is affected by two main factors:
- The coffee-to-water ratio;
- too much water = thin, bland, flat
- too little water = sharp, astringent.
- The amount of soluble sugars and fats that are released by the coffee into the water during the brewing process.
Coffee is a colloidal suspension. Of the 800 +/- different chemical compounds in roasted coffee, some are water-soluble and some are oil-soluble. Brewing extracts both, but oil-soluble compounds tend to take longer to extract than the water-soluble compounds in the grinds, and the oil-solubles tend to be on the bitter spectrum. Thus a 3-4 minute brew cycle will be sweeter and more pleasant than an 8 minute cycle.
Now, just for a practical application of the mouthfeel, let’s use this progression: water, skim milk, low fat milk, 2% milk, whole milk, half-and-half, heavy cream. In coffee, drip method preparation might approach 2% milk, while espresso may give you a similar mouthfeel as half-and-half. Finally, roast color does have an important influence on the body of a coffee, regardless of brew method. The key: the lighter the roast, the greater the body. The darker the roast, the thinner the mouth-feel. The importance of body relates to flavor retention or finish. The greater the body, the longer the finish.