What Does The 'Body' Of Coffee Actually Mean?

The sheer number of coffee terms could bowl one over long before they got far enough to worry about something like "body." Like the rise of craft beer, American coffee has undergone a transformation in the last few decades, which has expanded the vocabulary someone needs just to order one — from "coffee please," to cortado, nitro, flat white, and dozens of others. It doesn't get any easier at home, as the coffee aisle at your local supermarket is probably exploding with new brands you've never heard of. The coffee boom has undoubtedly been great for the quality of brews, but even the best trends sometimes get overwhelming.

When finding your perfect coffee, ordering is only half the battle. It turns out that after choosing a style of drink or a specific roast, you actually have to taste it. According to Blue Bottle Coffee, there are five main components when evaluating coffee. Two of the components, sweetness and acidity, will be easy to understand and detect for most people. Flavor is also a clear enough concept, but like wine, the diversity of coffee means it contains notes of anything from chocolate to stone fruit. Finish relates to how long the coffee lingers on your palate. The last element of coffee taste is body, which too will be easy to understand once you know what to pay attention to. 

Body is the texture of the coffee

While the other four components of coffee have to do with different taste sensations, the body is all about how the coffee feels in your mouth. According to Perfect Daily Grind, the body is based on how heavy, thick, and viscous the coffee is and can vary because of the brewing method, roast type, and region in which your coffee was grown. Coffee acquires its body from compounds like fibers and oils suspended in the liquid after brewing. This is why something like espresso has the body or texture it does. It uses a high ratio of coffee to water, so a large amount of oil and solid compounds are left in the finished brew.

When you experience a "watery" coffee, you sense its body. Community Coffee states that frequently used phrases to describe the body are "syrupy," "heavy," and "thin." While full-bodied coffee, which is thick and rich, is often touted as an advantage in coffee, some prefer thinner, lighter-body coffee for its clean taste. Homegrounds notes that pourover coffee, in particular, is favored for its brightness, which it produces because it is not as immersive and high-extraction as alternatives like a French press. As with flavor and other variables, finding the right body for your coffee involves testing different brands and brewing methods and discovering what works for you.