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What is Coffee Taste Wheel

So that graders from all over the world understand each other when assessing coffee, in 1995 they created the first “coffee taste wheel”. It is the main tool for describing the taste and aroma of coffee. In this article, we'll show you how to use it.
Specialty coffee greatly increased the variety of flavors and aromas, but people had difficulty because of the different taste experience of people in different parts of the world, it was difficult for them to clearly describe the taste of coffee. For example, one person said that he felt anise in his taste, and another heard about this spice for the first time.

So that graders from all over the world understand each other when assessing coffee, in 1995 they created the first “coffee taste wheel”. It is the main tool for describing the taste and aroma of coffee. In this article, we'll show you how to use it.

What are taste descriptors?

A descriptor is a unit of description of the coffee taste and aroma. For example, when a grader finds notes of dark grapes, red apple, and dark chocolate in a taste, it essentially determines the descriptors.

There can be an infinite number of descriptors: berries, flowers, herbs, fruits, nuts, and even oil and concrete. In order to feel them, a person must, firstly, taste properly prepared coffee, and secondly, have a relatively large taste experience.

There is no connection between coffee and the descriptor that is felt in it. For instance, if you feel the notes of orange in a drink, it does not mean that an orange was added to the coffee. It only means that in this situation similar elements (which caused the association with an orange) were formed in coffee.

The history of "coffee taste wheel"

The taste wheel was created so that the experts would speak the same language. In 2016, it was updated, and the international specialty coffee organization SCA officially approved it.

In addition to a visual image of a wheel that lists all the descriptors that can be found in coffee, there is a book that explains how to recreate a certain aroma.

If you mix certain chemical reagents, you can get almost any flavor. Thus, it does not matter where you are located and whether this product is available in your area. With the help of the book, you can recreate any scent and find out how anise, tangerine or oil smells.

How to use the taste wheel?

Get acquainted with the wheel and imagine the whole palette of tastes and aromas of coffee. It is better to start from the center and gradually move outward.
• Deal with descriptors that are unfamiliar to you. A wheel is a basic set of descriptions of coffee flavors and aromas that can be understood by as many people as possible. A short description in the interactive flavor wheel will help you understand what exactly needs to be done with the product or what part of it will let you get to know the flavor.

• Practice. The first step is to grind the coffee and smell the aroma of the bean, then start brewing and pay attention to the aroma during the pre-wetting phase and during brewing.

• The second step is to taste the coffee. During this process, you need to check the wheel of tastes and write down the sensations.

• Learn to describe taste. To do this, you need to start from the center of the wheel. Firstly, select a group of descriptors, then a subgroup, and then the descriptor itself. For example, you are tasting coffee and you realize that it has fruity notes in the taste. With the help of the wheel, you select a more accurate description of the taste: berries, fruits, dried fruits or citrus. Let's say berries. Then you move into this subgroup and determine which particular berry you felt in your taste: blackberry, raspberry, strawberry or blueberry.

• Develop taste experience. To easily use the wheel and describe the taste of coffee without problems, you need to practice. In addition to awareness during tasting, you need to develop taste experience.


Mr. Viet is a coffee producer based in Vietnam. We cooperate with Vietnamese farmers in Dalat region in order to connect them to the world coffee lovers. Follow us to learn more about coffee and taste the real flavors of Vietnam!
27.08.2021

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