What is Body in Coffee Roasting?

Coffee Education
John Alden
July 26, 2023

Here at Perfect Extraction, our goal is to demystify the world of specialty coffee, and part of doing so is defining our terms, especially those that may not be familiar to the average reader.

One term we’d like to define is “Body”, a term used regularly in the coffee roasting process.  The obvious question…what is body, what does it describe, and why is the term so commonly used among coffee enthusiasts?

In coffee roasting, “body” refers to the physical sensation and texture of the coffee in the mouth. It is the weight and thickness of the coffee on the tongue, and it can range from light and thin to heavy and syrupy.  Admittedly, coffee “body” can be somewhat subjective, just like the myriad of adjectives used to describe wine, but we digress.  

The body of the coffee is influenced by several factors, including the roast level, brewing method, and bean origin. Darker roasts tend to have a fuller body than lighter roasts, as the prolonged roasting process results in the coffee beans losing more moisture and developing a richer, heavier flavor profile.

The brewing method also has a significant impact on the body of the coffee. For example, espresso is brewed under high pressure, which extracts more of the coffee's oils and creates a thicker, creamier body. Drip brewing, on the other hand, produces a lighter-bodied coffee with a more delicate flavor profile.

Finally, the origin of the coffee bean can also affect its body. Some regions, such as Indonesia and Brazil, are known for producing beans with a heavier, more full-bodied profile, while others, such as Ethiopia and Kenya, tend to produce beans with a lighter, more floral body.

A well-balanced coffee should have a body that complements its other flavor characteristics, such as acidity and sweetness. The body of the coffee should be appropriate for the brewing method and should provide a pleasant and satisfying mouthfeel.

In conclusion, body is an essential component of coffee roasting that can greatly impact the overall drinking experience. For experienced coffee drinkers, achieving the right body involves a careful consideration of several factors listed above, and a well-balanced coffee should have a body that complements its other flavor characteristics, creating a harmonious and enjoyable drinking experience.  

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