Coffee Body - Full Bodied Vs Light Body

Backyard Brew Coffee Co. Copyright BACKYARD BREW COFFEE CO.·THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2019
I am sure you have heard the term “I enjoy a full bodied coffee”

But what does it all actually mean?

It has to do with mouth feel. The feeling of the coffee on your tongue and in your mouth. Let's use two extremes: When you bite into a slice of lemon, your mouth starts to water and we associate this sensation with something acidic. Now take a sip of full cream milk and swirl it around your month, we associate this with a creamy sensation on our tongue.

With these two extremes in mind, Coffee’s Mouth feel is often describes as:

Full - heavy, rich, and velvety
Medium - smooth, round and creamy
Light - tea-like, crisp and juicy

The above are just a few ways we can describe mouth feel.

To achieve the body we like in our coffee we can play with Brew Ratio and Brew Method. If I am looking for a medium bodied batch brew coffee for a late evening gathering to be enjoyed with my favourite slice of chocolate cake, I would use a medium roast coffee with heavy chocolate notes and increase my brew ratio. Using 140 Grams of ground coffee to 2.2 Litres of water I would create a smooth tasting coffee brewed through a paper filter that has an intense flavour and aroma. When swirled around the cup you can see a thin coating of oil that made it through the paper filter. The coffee wouldn't feel heavy on my palate but would have an intense flavour.

With the same coffee we can adjust the brew ratio to give us a lighter bodied coffee. The coffee will be clearer, less oils will be present, giving our palate the impression of a light bodied cup, those full flavours are still there, just more subtle. We can achieve this by adding clean hot water to the brewed coffee to dilute it thus increasing the water to coffee ratio creating a lighter bodied cup. Generally speaking when brewing through a paper filter this can capture some of those essential oils and compounds we associate with a full bodied cup.

When making a shot of espresso we get a full bodied mouth feel. It coats our mouth, it is heavy, rich and velvety and if you swirl it around your mouth it coats it. Now make an cafe americano, this still has bold flavours but it feels more smooth and creamy on your palate. Think of the difference between a spoon of honey in your mouth (Heavy body) versus a spoon of cream in your mouth (Medium Body) The tactile sensation is different.

In no way should we think that coffee with light body is less flavoursome. Many specialty coffees are roasted lighter to enhance there unique flavour of origin. We only add a slice of lemon to our water to make it more refreshing, not the entire fruit. Likewise if we want to capture the subtle citrus and tropical fruit flavours in our coffee we brew them more carefully and enjoy a light refreshing coffee.

When it comes to selecting what coffee to buy, it can be tricky. Our likes and dislikes vary and so does our palate and mood. Think about what textures and flavours you enjoy, and always consult your local roaster for assistance. This is what we are here for: to make sure you enjoy every sip of your favourite brew.

Photo by "Di Bella Coffee" from Pexels

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