The Coffee taster's Flavor Wheel is my Ouiji Board

March 11, 2009

How do you describe that cup of coffee in your hand? What words?





Wine connoissors have their own lingo, using crazy terms like apricot and plum. How about us, coffee drinkers?





Well, there is the Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel distributed by the Specialty Coffee Association of America. It lists over 100 terms to describe coffee ranging from piney and cedar to thyme and lemon.





The amazing thing about this Flavor Wheel is that is really works. If it's in front of you while tasting coffee, it will trigger memories and words in you that help you describe the coffee. You become a Ouiji Board, channeling some far-off coffee connoisseur who knows what they're talking about.





Coffee Flavor WheelI used it during a coffee cupping at a trade show. I was a total novice. Before the show, I could muster only half-witted descriptions like "this tastes strong! This coffee is a little soupy." But with the Flavor Wheel, I was soon saying things like "it does taste like tea rose with a little lemon and a little like berry jam! This other one has a dark chocolate taste and a bit of molasses with a little tobacco! Too much CHARRING in this one..." It was AWESOME. It's like you're talking a whole new language in 10 seconds. And it gives you a language to remember the coffee later so that you know that you liked the Indonesian better than the Costa Rican coffee, and -- best of all -- you have the words why.





So print out this chart and keep it by your coffee maker. Tell your friends it's an experiment. Try a bunch of different coffees and take notes. It's amazing how well this wheel works. It's almost a Ouiji Board!





You can find a large version here: Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel







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