This article was published in Beanscene magazine in August 2015.
Spend enough time near cuppers, roasters, or baristas, and you would have undoubtedly seen a wall adorned with the colourful graphic known as the Coffee Taster’s Flavour Wheel.
More than just a pretty picture, the wheel is actually a critical piece of the cupping puzzle, and a part of the foundation of specialty coffee knowledge. Since its creation more than 20 years ago, thousands of coffee professionals around the world have used the wheel as a reference point for coffee communication.
If you’re new to the wheel, the best way to understand it is to think of a visual tool that enables quick and easy access to the vocabulary of coffee tasting. As a long-time coffee professional, I can tell you the value of being able to communicate with others effectively. Whether it be with a front-line customer, fellow barista, café owner, or in a teaching context, using the right terminology is a huge advantage. By using a common language it can help us fine-tune our palate, uncover defects in coffee, identify origins, inform customers, and simply enable us to share the enjoyment of coffee with others.