Coffee 101: The Aroma

Nothing beats that inviting smell of freshly brewed coffee. But did you know that aroma plays a major role in the taste of your cup?

Smell is very important to what we taste—it helps us taste complex flavors beyond the basic sensations we can directly perceive with our tongues (which are sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami). This is why your favorite foods can sometimes taste bland when you have a cold or stuffy nose.

Roasted coffee has over 800 aromatic compounds, beating out every other kind of beverage. Even wine has only 200-300 aromatic compounds!

The aroma of coffee is the release of these flavorful compounds into the air—which is why fresh coffee often has a stronger aroma than older coffee (and tastes better, too!) Generally, the aroma of a coffee gets stronger as the roast gets darker, because more of the compounds have been released and are detectable.


Aroma is one of the primary determinants of a coffee’s flavor. In fact, aroma is one of the main categories used by coffee tasters (or cuppers) to assess the quality of a coffee.

Light roasts tend to produce fruity, herbaceous and floral aromas that contribute to their fruity, acidic taste. Medium roasts, like our American Classic or Breakfast Blend, give off a nuttier, chocolatey smell. Dark roasts, on the other hand, generally have a spicy, smoky or toasted aroma. Our Signature Blend Dark Roast and Private Reserve® Louisiana Blend® are great examples of this.


Oftentimes, the aromas of a coffee blend so well with its flavors that it can be hard to set them apart. But you don’t have to be a coffee connoisseur to identify a coffee’s aroma.

The next time you brew your favorite Community® coffee blend, see if you can smell the difference. Give the air around your brewer a deep sniff. What do you smell? What does it remind you of? Is it strong? Take note of the aroma, and see if you notice anything different after you take your first sip of coffee. It’s as simple as that!