Coffee descriptors

January 11th, 2012

Back in September of last year I was thinking a bit about the words we use when we describe coffee.  Out of interest I went to a few US roaster’s websites and copied all their coffee descriptions into a text document and ran it through wordle.

I then went to Starbucks website and did the same thing with all their descriptions.  The results are interesting, I think and you can click to enbiggen:

Speciality:

Starbucks:

Now don’t take these too seriously – this is hardly the most incisive bit of research.  I’d like to ask if the same thing stands out to you as it does to me – but then I have to ruin the question by giving my own answer.

Speciality  1 likes to use nouns.  Solid, statement-of-fact nouns:  This coffee tastes like blackberry.

Starbucks surprised me, not only by their consistent use of acidity which confuses me on a couple of different accounts, because they don’t use as many nouns.  Lots more descriptive words, more adjectives and adverbs.  Are they harder to argue or disagree with?  Perhaps a more accessible way to describe coffee to their customers?

Is there something in the way they do this we can learn from.  I’m not suggesting we spruce up our descriptions with meaningless words, and I will admit that I am uncomfortable with labels when flavour descriptors start verbing, but would describing those factual flavour nouns in our labels a little more be beneficial?

  1. how uncomfortable I am with this term  ↩︎

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