‘Body’ refers to the mouthfeel of coffee, which mainly comes from suspended solids (very small cell wall fragments) and coffee oils. Lingle suggests that the two sensations can be partially distinguished by separating ‘texture’ from ‘weight’ — for example, a coffee with a high oil content but a small amount of suspended solids could have a creamy texture but a light weight.
Petracco writes, ‘Most of [mouthfeel’s] nature is related to small movements of the tongue against palate and gums, which apply a shear stress to the liquid performing a sort of rheological measurement of viscosity and texture.’ In other words, we press the liquid against the surfaces of our mouth to feel how thick it is and to evaluate the texture.
The oils in coffee also play another role in tasting: they reduce surface tension, allowing the coffee to coat the mouth more effectively (Navarini et al,, 2003) which can contribute to a ‘smooth’ or ‘creamy’ texture and may also affect the sensation of aftertaste.
As with acidity, body may be evaluated by intensity (weight), quality, or both. Again, SCA and COE forms give space for the cupper to record a numeric rating for ‘intensity’, but they ask them to rate the ‘body’ by quality instead. Quality, in this context, may refer to both weight and texture and, as with acidity, the SCA direct cuppers to relate it to the expected origin characteristics.
Balance can be considered to be the aggregate of coffee’s profile from the moment it is first tasted until the final aftertaste is experienced. This means the tactile elements (body) also form part of this definition. In cupping forms, balance refers to the idea of harmony in the flavours in the cup — whether any tastes or aromas are overpowering or missing,