If you're looking to master the art of coffee talk, this new flavor wheel from the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) is for you. A visually stunning chart depicting coffee's many flavors, the Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel is a guide for anyone who's ever tasted a cup of joe but stumbled when trying to describe its flavor.
In 1995, the SCAA came out with a chart to describe the many flavors of coffee under a universal lexicon so that scientists, roasters and buyers could communicate better. This new edition is the first revision to the original chart. Thanks to research conducted at UC Davis's Food Science and Technology Department, the SCAA just released an updated chart that "represents the work of literally hundreds of scientists, sensory analysts, coffee tasters and designers," a press release on the wheel reads. The SCAA calls it the largest collaborative study on coffee flavor to date.
To get a better idea of how exactly you can use the chart, Peter Giuliano, who worked on the wheel, offers a handful of examples.
"Coffees from Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia (like this one from Wrecking Ball Coffee in San Francisco), will often have notes of jasmine, lemon and honey. Coffees from central Kenya (like this one from George Howell Coffee in Boston) will classically have blackberry and citrus notes. Darker roasts, like the great Dancing Goats blend from Batdorf & Bronson, will have notes from the cocoa, nutty and brown spice sections," Giuliano says.
Next time you're sipping a cup of coffee, take a look at the chart and see which flavors speak to you. If the coffee doesn't wake you up right away, the chart's bright colors might help.
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