Sour or acidic, are they the same?

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#1: Post by mathof »

I have read many descriptions of the taste of espressos, but I've never been able to work out whether people use the word acidic and the word sour to describe to the same sensation. Sometimes I describe my own impressions of acidic coffee as good acid (lively) and bad acid (sour). I wonder how others regard the acid/sour dichotomy.

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#2: Post by yakster »


LMWDP # 272

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#3: Post by another_jim »

Water differences aside, acidity is both a scientific terms for the pH of coffee and a tasting term.

The pH of coffee was mismeasured until fairly recently, because buffers were not taken into account; since then it confirms what tasters always knew, some coffees and roasts are a lot more acidic than others.

Acidty is a mixed tasting term, requiring both quality and quantity. If a coffee tastes sour, because its high acidity is from ferment or from being picked unripe, the more acidity, the worse the score. If a coffee tastes lively, because the acidity is from ripe, sweet coffee cherries, the more acidity, the better the score. If a coffee is neither lively nor sour, but just flat; the acidity usually gets a middle score, typically 5.

Some tasting sheets distinguish between quantity and quality; not sure how far they've caught on.
Jim Schulman

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#4: Post by Jeff »


It's "acidic" if you enjoy it and "sour" if not.


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#5: Post by mgrayson replying to Jeff »

Close the thread. It's done! :lol:

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#6: Post by Sal »

Yep, for me the coffee note "sour" and "acidic" are interchangable. If I see fruit descriptors on the bag, I usually skip it. Always looking for low acid, earthy coffee.
I am a home-roaster, not a home-barista...

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#7: Post by jpender »

I used to eat these candies called "sour apple" or something like that. They were hard candies, very sweet, apple flavored but covered with a very sour powder. You had to suck on them and endure the sourness to get to the sweet part. Something about that contrast was appealing. Maybe an acquired taste as I sometimes gave them to unsuspecting children who always spit them out.

Anyway, they were most definitely sour but came with a reward ultimately and a kind of temporal flavor balance. A coffee that tastes truly sour to a particular person has no reward; just punishment.