Coffee has more aromas than wine. It is estimated that there are over 800 distinct aromas which may appear in coffee, while wines have only an estimated 400 aromas.
When coffee geeks say that they can taste a flavor, they are wrong. The tongue can only detect four flavors; sweet, sour, bitter and salty*. It is your nose that detects the aromas. When your nose detects an aroma, your brain translates that into a flavor. Smelling a great aroma inclines our brains to say, it tastes very good. Eighty percent of the taste of any food is through aroma.
We smell aromas in two different ways. First, nasally by inhaling the aroma through the nose. Secondly, retro-nasally by exhaling aromas in the mouth through the nose.
Professional coffee cuppers always start their evaluation of any coffee by first smelling the aroma of the dry ground coffee and then smelling the aroma of the brewed coffee. They then slurp the brewed coffee to atomize some of the coffee in their nose. After slurping there is a natural reaction to breathe out. If they close their mouth and exhale through their nose, they smell the aroma.
Heat diminishes your power to fully taste coffee. Temperatures of 170 F and higher temporarily anesthetize the taste buds, dampening overall taste perception. If you want to check out a coffee, let it cool down to below 120 F and then slurp it. The difference in aroma between hot coffee and warm coffee is dramatic.
So what aromas might you smell in good coffee? Kona coffees often have aromas of fruit, spice, chocolate and flowers. Other coffees may have aromas of jasmine, fruit, berries, nuts, citrus, flowers, chocolate, caramel, and vanilla.
Coffees can also have bad aromas like vinegar, sour apple, grass, burnt wood, rancid oil, and mold. Your nose knows, don’t drink bad smelling coffee.
*There may or may not be other flavors that your tongue can sense, such as umami, however, they do not seem to appear in coffee. http://www.livescience.com/17684-sixth-basic-taste.html