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Coffee Guides

What Should Coffee Beans Smell Like?

A smell is an odor that you sense in your nose and at the back of your mouth. A smell (or aroma) is linked to emotions and memories. Green coffee beans have a less noticeable smell. Once roasted, they release volatile compounds that are easily detectable by the nose.

coffee beans smell

When roasting coffee beans, they undergo a Maillard Reaction between sugar and amino acids. It is this reaction that allows us to smell and taste coffee flavor. The reaction occurs at high temperatures. But what should coffee beans smell like? Continue reading through this article to find out.


What Do Fresh Coffee Beans Smell Like?

Roasted coffee beans release flavorful compounds into the air. You can notice these compounds by smelling them. Fresh coffee beans tend to smell stronger than stale beans. When roasting coffee beans, their flavorful compounds become more noticeable as the roast gets darker. Thus, you will notice more coffee smell from darker roasts than from lighter ones.

The smell of coffee beans ranges from light to fruity, smoky, and burnt. Most coffee beans smell almost nutty and slightly caramelized. Many fine coffee beans have subtle floral notes. For instance, Yemen Mocha coffee has a fresh floral aroma. Also, the best Colombian coffee beans and Kona coffee have a floral aroma.

Coffee smell is also related to its acidity and flavor. For instance, if the coffee is acidic, it will have an acidic smell. Similarly, if coffee is rich-flavored, it will reflect that richness in its smell. Some subtle coffee flavor notes such as high, fleeting notes are typically more pronounced in the smell.

Since the senses of a human being work in concert, the smell of coffee may affect its taste sensations. For instance, if your coffee smells nutty, you are likely to feel it taste nutty while drinking it. Similarly, if it smells acidic, you are most likely to notice an acidic taste.


Which Are the Best Smelling Coffee Beans?

Freshly roasted coffee beans smell the best. Once roasted, coffee beans start losing their flavor rapidly. This is due to exposure to heat, light, and air. For instance, coffee beans bought directly from a coffee roaster will smell better than those bought from the supermarket or grocery store.

When ordering roasted coffee beans, ensure they come in a vacuum-sealed bag to keep them fresh for longer. Once opened, consume them within a week or two before they lose much of their nice-smelling flavor.


What Do Bad Coffee Beans Smell Like?

As coffee beans age, they decompose and produce unwanted chemical reactions. As a result, their fresh flavors spoil and they become rancid or stale. Rancid coffee beans smell musty, dusty, flat, or cardboard-like. Although coffee beans that smell this way may not be bad for you, brewing coffee with stale beans will produce coffee with an off flavor. Preferably, repurpose stale coffee beans. Only brew with fresh beans to enjoy the aromatic smell and taste of fresh coffee.