Finding the way to describe your coffee and it always run out of vocabulary? Besides strong and bitter, what if i told you there is honey, grapefruit, peanut, hazelnut, even pepper~~!!! are part of the flavor that can be use to describe a cup of coffee?
What is Coffee Flavor Wheel? (source : sca.coffee)
Originally published in 1995, the Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel—one of the most iconic resources in the coffee industry—has been the industry standard for over two decades. In 2016, this valuable resource was updated in collaboration with World Coffee Research (WCR). The foundation of this work, the World Coffee Research Sensory Lexicon, is the product of dozens of professional sensory panelists, scientists, coffee buyers, and roasting companies collaborating via WCR and SCA. This is the largest and most collaborative piece of research on coffee flavor ever completed, inspiring a new set of vocabulary for industry professionals.
(Source : SCAA Flavor Wheel)
How to use the wheel?
- Taste your coffee : Nothing can start if you didn't take a sip of your coffee and allowing your sense to give you all the information. But please take your coffee black, no sugar, no creamer, no milk, no syrup... just coffee. However, it is not only your palate that giving you those information. Pay attention of the fragrance aroma after grind, the aroma when you pour water into your coffee grounds, the palate when you sipping your coffee, and the after taste of that linger around as you breath. So, pay attention to your sensory is the key here to develop in depth and accurate tasting experience. Take up the challenge by trying this Mystery bag!
- Start from the center of the wheel : The center of the wheel give you a general experience of it. Usually is the first hit that got you when you sip in your coffee, from there it goes to the second step identify the category of your 1st attribute, and go deeper to another detail. A cup of coffee can give you more than 1 main attributes, it can have fruity, roast and nutty at the same time or it can be completely 1 attribute only.
Example : Colombia Totoro.
Hit you first with a fruity attribute, then you go deeper to identify which fruit it is, berries? citrus fruit? Dried fruit? After you found that is a Citrus fruit, then which fruit it belong to ? Grapefruit ? Orange ? Lime ? But wait, there is another thing! Floral!! Seem like there is black tea taste as well!
Once you are done with 1 attribute, move on and start from zero again on another attribute that you notice until you are satisfy with the taste note you got it.
- Use your word : Write it down in a piece of paper every time you taste it and zero in to the most detail of it. You may surprise that everytime you brew with a different ratio or temperature, something different come out. So write it down to help you memorize and practice your consistency on brew as well or find out what is different in different brew method.
- Train your sense : Start paying attention to things around you for their aroma, fragrance, flavor. This not only apply to coffee but your daily routine, it can even apply on your Nasi Lemak! The sweetness and spicy of it!!
Enjoying coffee can be fun ! Drink different type of coffee and try to find out whats are the difference. By referring to the coffee taste note, you may also try to figure out if you are brewing it correctly. But bare in mind that everyone have a different taste bud sensitivity, that why certified cupper are professional in finding out those detail taste in the coffee and you can train your way up to as well !
Happy Brewing !~!
Loh | Founder of Millilitre