In January, for the first time in 21 years, the original Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel published by the Specialty Coffee Association of America was updated and refined. The new flavor wheel is a groundbreaking tool that is already shifting the way coffee lovers think and talk about coffee.
“The new Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel is a great collaborative tool,” explained Stockton Graham & Co. and Dilworth Coffee roastmaster Brandon Riggs. “Although the original Flavor Wheel was a breakthrough, this new wheel is more approachable to the general public because it describes flavors in a way that is more common and accessible to everyday coffee drinkers.”
For example, Brandon notes that the old flavor wheel identified Nippy and Piquant as subgroups in the Sweet flavor group. The new flavor wheel, instead, uses more common words like Honey, Maple Syrup and Molasses. Brandon points out that industry veterans and coffee patrons alike can more easily recognize the tastes of honey or molasses than nippy or piquant.
In addition to more common language, the new flavor wheel introduced gradients in the outer flavor groupings to accommodate more subtlety of tastes. For example, with the addition of gradients, the flavor of blueberry can range from sugary jam-like blueberry to tangy freshly-picked-off-the-bush blueberry.
“By adding gradients to the flavor group, it provides more possibilities in taste and more ways to explore flavor in coffee,” Brandon said.
New Flavor Wheel Facilitates Collaboration
As an instructor of Stockton Graham & Co.’s Coffee College, Brandon also appreciates that the more accessible flavor wheel makes it easier to communicate about coffee.
“It facilitates communication at the cupping table, whether the cupping is an internal one among roasters or whether roasters come together at a cupping table with customers to discuss coffee,” Brandon said. “The new Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel helps us talk to our customers and others who enjoy coffee about their flavor experience.”
Here at Stockton Graham & Co., the iconic Flavor Wheel is a key discussion tool we use during our internal cupping sessions, as well as when we talk to customers about coffee.
“We’ve spent a few weeks working with the new flavor wheel at our Raleigh coffee roasting facility, and we are speaking with customers about using it to guide the way they talk about coffee,” said Brandon said. “Our customers are finding the wheel to be a very helpful tool, whether they are thinking about adding a new coffee or simply talking to their patrons about the coffees they already serve.”
New Flavor Wheel Improves Training Experience
At Stockton Graham & Co. we have begun incorporating the new tasting wheel into our regular internal training sessions, as we grow the expertise of our junior roasters and customer service teams. We will also begin incorporating it into our monthly Coffee College program designed for coffee customers and operators.
“This new wheel is an opportunity to unite all around the cupping table, and to facilitate learning,” Brandon said. “Whether you are a coffee industry expert or you have never cupped before, the new Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel is a valuable contribution to any coffee tasting experience.”
Click here for a copy of the new Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel and call a customer care associate at 800 835 5943 to explore how you can use the flavor wheel in your store.