Walking downstairs in the morning to the smell of freshly brewed coffee is my favorite moment of the day. I also feel most at home when I walk into a café and am surrounded by the smell of espresso and java.
There is something so calming and grounding about the smell of coffee, and the majority of people agree, even if they don’t enjoy the taste. So what exactly is it that makes coffee aroma so powerful?
Read on to explore the science behind this most powerful of smells.
Aroma is Taste
When eating and drinking we often think of taste as being the most important component of what makes food “good” to us. But in actuality, you’re using all your senses when eating.
We are more likely to enjoy food and drink that are appealing to look at, have textures we don’t mind handling or chewing, smell great, and that are rich in flavor.
These receptors will help us not only identify if food is safe to eat or not, but also help us enjoy every element of the food and drinks we consume.
It’s your sense of smell, however, that really brings food to life. Your nose has hundreds more receptors that help us enjoy food in its fullness. Your nose picks up on the flavors long before anything gets to your tongue.
It can make something seem unappealing or create a longing for it with one little sniff.
This is why when you have a cold or are congested, things don’t taste as vibrant or flavorful as normal. You’re still able to taste with your tastebuds, but all the aromatic elements are eliminated, missing out on a whole host of aromatic flavors.
What Coffee Does to Our Nose
Now that we know what importance aroma has in our food consumption, let’s talk about what makes coffee one of the most pleasing smells.
The world-famous coffee aroma results from volatile compounds in coffee beans being released when the coffee is roasted and ground.
As reported by the National Library of Medicine, these compounds are produced during the roasting process and include “reducing sugars, amino acids, lipid, chlorogenic acid, and trigonelline”.
The components found in a green coffee bean undergo a myriad of changes as the beans get processed, washed, roasted and then extracted. This is why individual coffee roasts can smell very different and unique, yet also still give out that classic “java” smell.
There are currently 800 different aromatics that experts and master tasters have labeled, so there are plenty of different aromas for every taste and preference.
The Best Smell
Although pretty much any coffee will give you a yummy coffee aroma once brewed, you’re not likely to get much of a coffee smell from old beans, especially if already ground.
In fact, freshness is actually one of the key components to having that powerful smell. Coffee is freshest directly after being roasted and loses its smell and flavor the older it gets.
This is why we highly recommend buying directly from roasters or cafes that stock freshly roasted beans.
Roasts are usually considered old or past expiration just one month after their roast date. Although you can still enjoy the beans past this, you’re getting the best flavor and aroma closest to the roast date.
Tips for Freshness
A few key tips to keep in mind to ensure that your coffee smells wonderful include:
- Checking for a roast date that is no more than two weeks before the purchase
- Checking for coffee bean strength labeled as strong or highly aromatic
- Checking the roast type, with darker roasts being more aromatic with stronger smells and flavors
- Ordering whole beans to grind at home
- Ordering coffee in a 1-way valve seal bag
Whether brewing at home or walking into a new café, we hope that the smell of coffee always brings a smile to your face. Its aroma is powerful, distinct, and truly delightful.