When I began in the coffee business, the biggest litmus test for good Vs bad coffee was if it was good even AFTER it goes cold – that still holds true today.
Today, if someone labels our coffee ‘Some Serious Gourmet Shit’, I take that as the highest compliment we could receive – and in all honesty that’s the goal.
For the most part, just like wine drinking, identifying specific notes is far from easy and can require years of professional training to reach a level of proficiency – in fact there are people known as Q Graders who get paid to do just that. Having the ability to narrow flavors down to their most specific characteristics is a skill that I’m working on daily but I have to admit that I’m far from being a Q Grader.
There is a tool accessible to anyone who does wish to explore all 110 named potential attributes of flavor found in coffee and it is called the Coffee Wheel.
Just as the name implies, this tool is circular and has three tiers:
- The inner core is the most generalized description area. When you smell and taste the coffee this is like the first level of identifying taste.
- The second level breaks the generalized descriptions into more specific flavors.
- The third and last tier is where everything gets granular – on occasion I’ll pull something like lemon as a flavor from one of my roasts but they have to be very prevalent in order for me to pick up on them.
- The Flavor Wheel is not intended to define whether a coffee is “Gourmet Shit” or not – that’s up to you. What it’s there to do is help you really break down what you are drinking.
Recently I found this great site that has created an interactive Flavor Wheel that not only allows you to click on the flavors as you identify them, but also gives a description AS WELL AS a way of reproducing that flavor in order to test yourself and see if what you think you are drinking is in line with reality.
Take a quick look at the link below and see if you can identify the coffee in your cup right now.
Send some feedback (Contact Us) to let us know if our description of the coffee you are drinking is in line with what you might identify on the flavor wheel above.