Espresso Tasting Criteria

Or: There Really Is a Method to Our Madness?

Credible standards require well-defined criteria and repeatable processes by which to judge them. Coffee industry professionals established the art and science of formal coffee tasting long ago. And while we make no claims to be professional coffee tasting connoisseurs, we based this guide on many of their standard judging criteria. (Please see our Tasting Methodology page for further details.)

For this guide, we chose the criteria of brightness, aroma, body, and flavor rated on a 10-point scale. This mirrors the cupping standards of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), the world's preeminent trade organization focused on quality coffee. (At almost 2,500 company members, the SCAA is also the world's largest trade organization.) Also, because this guide focuses exclusively on espresso preparation, we've added crema - a property unique to espresso - to the rating set.