The Journal

resources to guide your expeditions in coffee

Reinventing The WheelThe New & Improved Guide to Coffee Flavors

Here’s the situation as it stands. You’ve started to drink craft coffee. You know you like it. You know it’s better for you. You know it better supports the farmer. You know it tastes better.

But WHAT are you tasting?
It’s coffee . . . right?
But it’s not coffee as you knew it.

To reconcile the mind-expanding experiences you’re finding in your daily cups, you need a tool.

Far and away, the coolest tool that has been created by the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America). It provides a stylish and comprehensive reference for you to put words to the tastes that you’re tasting.

Moreover, it was JUST REINVENTED!

For the first time in its 21-year existence the wheel has been updated. Great news for you, because that means you’re getting in on some cutting edge stuff right here!

Without further adieu:

Flavor Wheel

Click to enlarge

How to Use The Flavor Wheel

Rule #1: There are no rules.

Really, there are no wrong answers. So just start messing around and soon you’ll find you’re developing your palate of coffee appreciation.

Here’s the process we use though:

  • Evaluate the body of the coffee. It can be light, like tea. Or it can be heavy, like velvet.
  • Take another sip.
  • Move to the center of the wheel and find the descriptors that apply to the coffee you’re drinking.
  • Take another sip.
  • Refine your description of the coffee’s flavor attributes by moving outward on the wheel.
  • Take another sip.
  • Find more flavors and move outward on the wheel to further describe what you taste.
  • Go ahead, have another. Pretty good, huh?
  • Think about any other adjectives that might apply to further enunciate the sophisticated culmination of grown, roasted, and brewed coffea arabica that is all too quickly dwindling in your cup.
  • Probably a good time for another cup of coffee.

This can be a part of your daily coffee ritual, and soon you’ll be a practised expert. You can even really geek out in a group by having a Coffee Cupping Party - it’s like a book club, but no one has to pretend they read Madame Bovary.

That’s all there is to it. And like we said, no wrong answers. Get out there and drink some delicious coffee.

Flavor Wheel
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