What is the coffee tasting wheel? How can you use it to improve your coffee experience??
The coffee tasting wheel was designed by the Specialty Coffee Association of America and World Coffee research. This collaboration gives us a brilliant tool that can help us with analysing and describing coffee.
If you take a look at the coffee wheel, you can see that it is split into categories and subcategories, for example you have fruitywhich diverges into berry and then blueberry. The extraordinary array of flavours expands from floral to chemical, and includes curious flavours such as papery and maple syrup.
The first thing to understand is that just because a coffee is described with certain flavours, it does not contain actual traces of that material. This is just a guide used by experts to describe and explain flavours!
How do we use it?
Taste your coffee mindfully
The entire process of making and tasting your coffee should be a mindful one. This includes taking note of the fragrances and appearance of the coffee at all stages in the process. Once it comes to tasting the final product, you should do so with an awareness of all your senses. This is from what you can taste with your tongue but also what you can smell and see. This will make the next step of identifying notes far easier.
Start at the centre
When looking at the wheel to try determine the flavours in your coffee, start at the centre and the larger categories. By simplifying the process, you will find it easier to determine the family of flavours that the notes belong to. Once you have established this, you can start to move outwards, looking at all the possible flavours to try find the best match. Thinking 'is this lemon or lime' or 'hazelnut or almond' will help to narrow the flavours down. You should repeat this process, starting in the centre each time, to identify all the different notes that one coffee may have.
The designers of the coffee tasting wheel choose the colours very carefully. Since colour and our visual sense is strongly connected to our other senses; you can use the two together to form a better idea of what different notes should taste like. Coffee have a 'bright' taste or a more subtle and subdued taste, a warm taste or a cooler taste. This is all reflected in the colours.