Specialty Coffee Association of America’s New Coffee Flavor Taster’s Wheel

A detailed lexicon infographic created in collaboration with World Coffee Research

20 years ago, the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) introduced a coffee taste flavor wheel that would provide a standardized language for everyone from farmers to baristas and even those curious about what they were sipping. It was a visual guide that allowed deeper access to what was at play in every cup. Since its initial release, climates have shifted and growing has changed. In a unified effort, SCAA joined forces with World Coffee Research (WCR) to develop a new, updated lexicon. WCR tapped the sensory scientists at Kansas State University’s Sensory Analysis Center and after a year of research, the World Coffee Research Sensory Lexicon was developed.

With all that information in hand, SCAA took the distinct, thoughtful flavor descriptors and coupled it with data from a University of California, Davis’ Food Science and Technology Department study on how coffee tasters organize their words. Remarkably, there were striking similarities between the two studies that allowed them to be seamlessly incorporated. Altogether, the SCAA/WCR Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel was born. It’s one of the most epic representations of not only coffee diversity, but also of coffee research—with literally hundreds of people (and, specifically, scientists) behind it. Further, it’s not only useful at interpreting a cup of Joe, it’s a visually stunning infographic worth admiration for its artistry.

The new Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel will be available online starting in February 2016. Please note that only the previous version of the Wheel is listed/available on the site. Do not order it by mistake. Check back in February 2016 to order the new one referenced here.

Images courtesy of SCAA