New SCAA-WCR Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel - Page 2

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
User avatar
another_jim
Team HB

#11: Post by another_jim »

Marshall wrote:Although this description is widely repeated, it wasn't quite true.
The description (that the wheel has flavors in molecular weight order) was true; I heard Ted say it. However, he didn't get it entirely right for the simple reason that the mapping of flavonoids (flavor chemicals) to sensed flavors is incredibly complicated. I strongly feel that this is no reason to give up on trying to create a wheel that reflects the underlying chemistry. Let's look a the alternative:

I you want a subjectively valid flavor wheel, there is only one rational standard to use -- finding the list of flavor names that allows people to best distinguish between different coffees and coffee origins. This would be the language that makes people the most appreciative coffee drinkers; and identifying it would be a very good thing.

But it would require a far more elaborate research program than a chemistry based wheel. Basically, one would need to test hundreds of people at a university psychology lab, priming them with different lists of descriptors and testing their acuity. Moreover, even such a well founded subjective wheel would need to be periodically revised as language habits change.

But there is a more fatal flaw: If maximal discrimination of coffee origins by tasters is the best criteria for using flavor descriptors, it would be best for everyone to create their own list, based on their own habitual way of drinking and identifying coffees. A language that does not pick out public and repeatable referents, but which is used to maximize a personal capacity does not need to be public, nor does it need to be stable.

Therefore, my private capacity to appreciate and differentiate coffees is not aided by any conceivable SCAA flavor wheel. My attempts to fix sourcing, roasting, and brewing problems could be aided by such a wheel, and they were by the old wheel. What help is the new one for this?
Jim Schulman

User avatar
Marshall (original poster)

#12: Post by Marshall (original poster) »

Jim, might I suggest you hold your fire until all the supporting materials are out and you read them. Ted Lingle was fully in support of this project, which has much more research behind it than the old wheel did. As Nick Cho notes, doing away with some of the old descriptors like "turpeny" and "cineolic" is also a step forward.
Marshall
Los Angeles

User avatar
another_jim
Team HB

#13: Post by another_jim »

Marshall wrote:Jim, might I suggest you hold your fire until all the supporting materials are out and you read them.
Fair enough; although I'm not optimistic
Jim Schulman

User avatar
VeniaCoffee

#14: Post by VeniaCoffee »

another_jim wrote:
But there is a more fatal flaw: If maximal discrimination of coffee origins by tasters is the best criteria for using flavor descriptors, it would be best for everyone to create their own list, based on their own habitual way of drinking and identifying coffees. A language that does not pick out public and repeatable referents, but which is used to maximize a personal capacity does not need to be public, nor does it need to be stable.

Therefore, my private capacity to appreciate and differentiate coffees is not aided by any conceivable SCAA flavor wheel. My attempts to fix sourcing, roasting, and brewing problems could be aided by such a wheel, and they were by the old wheel. What help is the new one for this?
Think you need to keep in mind that this is first a tool for enabling a global industry to compare apples to apples, a descriptive tool for researchers to quantify abstract taste attributes in a meaningful way. It is NOT first and foremost a tool for "end users", but most certainly can be helpful. The World Coffee Research Sensory Lexicon dives into this more specifically. You can find it at this link: http://worldcoffeeresearch.org/read-mor ... ry-lexicon
Keith Eckert
www.veniacoffee.com

User avatar
VeniaCoffee

#15: Post by VeniaCoffee »

The original SCAA flavor wheel and the Counter Culture flavor wheel might be a better tool for many folks, perhaps even me. I am still evaluating the new lexicon and am holding off opinions for awhile.
Keith Eckert
www.veniacoffee.com

Ellejaycafe

#16: Post by Ellejaycafe »

VeniaCoffee wrote:Think you need to keep in mind that this is first a tool for enabling a global industry to compare apples to apples, a descriptive tool for researchers to quantify abstract taste attributes in a meaningful way. It is NOT first and foremost a tool for "end users", but most certainly can be helpful. The World Coffee Research Sensory Lexicon dives into this more specifically. You can find it at this link: http://worldcoffeeresearch.org/read-mor ... ry-lexicon
This along with the new flavor wheel makes a ton of sense! Just reading thru this you can tell they really have done a ton of research. This is very interesting stuff!! Talking to my partner and I we plan to take this research and add into our weekly routine. We are going to taste/smell one of the researched flavor profiles once a week to build our palates. i think this will do a great deal to help me build my palate and vocabulary when it comes to identifying flavors in certain coffees. I don't think the flavor wheel without the provided lexicon is apparently helpful. But when you combine the two it's a great tool to help any level of barista/coffee lover. Thank you for these links guys. Instead of simply looking at something and saying "meh that sucks and really isn't any better than the old model etc." I urge us all to take this information and keep moving forward. There is obviously a lot of thought, research, and effort put into the flavor wheel and provided lexicon. I applaud the SCAA for trying to keep up with the ever growing coffee world and not simply staying stagnant.
LMWDP #544

User avatar
another_jim
Team HB

#17: Post by another_jim »

VeniaCoffee wrote:The World Coffee Research Sensory Lexicon dives into this more specifically. You can find it at this link: http://worldcoffeeresearch.org/read-mor ... ry-lexicon
Thanks for the link. It is an impressive document, with precise descriptions and reference standards for each of the 119 or so tastes.

So is coffee flavor a 119 dimensional state space; do we now characterize a coffee with a 0 to 15 score along each of these 119 taste dimensions? That would indeed require considerable professionalism; even a mass spectrometer would have to register most of the transuranics to get up to this level of dimensional complexity when identifying every possible chemical compound in existence. So, according to this schema, coffee flavor is even more complex than all of chemistry combined.

Absurd? Lets approach this from another angle.

Would these terms, if adopted by learning cuppers, and used to discriminate what they are tasting, improve their ability to assess coffee? Having cupped with the best, I no longer believe this. Instead, the best cuppers taste actual origins and quality directly. Get five of them together, and they'll all tell you if a given cup is a Kirinyaga or Huehuetenango; but each will describe the flavors differently. Their expertise is in identifying actual coffees and actual quality, not in naming flavors.

The hypothesis that underlies all flavor wheels (not just coffee but for many other foodstuffs) is that identifying and naming flavors is a necessary intermediate step between drinking some coffee and identifying its origin, and whether it's good coffee, well roasted and well brewed. This is clearly false. Every coffee expert I've ever met goes in the opposite direction: they drink, ID the coffee, assess its quality, then fish around for appropriate descriptors.

There is simply no evidence that the sensori-cognitive performance that underlies an expert's ability has anything at all to do with the flavors we consciously perceive and name. Instead there is a lot of everyday evidence in the other direction -- that the pattern recognition comes first, the conscious perception and words come second. This is why a false pattern recognition, e.g. being told this is such and such a coffee, will evoke the appropriate false conscious flavor impressions. This is also why, in cupping competitions, or in checking the quality of any foodstuff, it is best to mentally shut up, focus, and go with the immediate impression, rather than thinking discursively about what one is tasting.

This means that taste descriptions have no analytical purpose. Instead, they are serve as the vocabulary for praising good coffees and damning the bad ones with faint praise. For this purpose fashion reigns; and the current specialty coffee fashion is to be "sciency" (apologies to Colbert; but there's almost as much sciency as truthy out there).
Jim Schulman

User avatar
[creative nickname]

#18: Post by [creative nickname] »

Thought-provoking stuff Jim (as usual). I tend to agree that the "recognition" aspects of coffee tasting are probably more important for those winning tasting competitions or choosing which coffees to buy. A while back, I was really excited to try out the Nez du Cafe kit, thinking that it would improve my abilities at coffee tasting and description. I spent a while doing blind aroma identification until I could do it fairly reliably, although it was a fun exercise, I didn't really notice much benefit in my ability to cup coffees validly or reliably.
LMWDP #435

User avatar
Boldjava
Supporter ♡

#19: Post by Boldjava »

[creative nickname] wrote:Thought-provoking stuff Jim (as usual). I tend to agree that the "recognition" aspects of coffee tasting are probably more important for...choosing which coffees to buy...
Agreed. I like the new wheel. The old wheel always struck me as a bit esoteric. I would see folks grab it, sit at a table, and force fit descriptors into their thoughts. No, no, no.

I think it important to back up, find the originators' purpose of the lexicon, the wheel as a quick entry into the lexicon, and then evaluate it. As such, I like their work and plan to read the Sensory Lexicon more than once, and see if I can't improve my descriptive language.

"The goal of the World Coffee Research Sensory Lexicon is to use for the first time the tools and
technologies of sensory science to understand and name coffee's primary sensory qualities, and to create
a replicable way of measuring those qualities.."

Thanks to Yakster for adding the link on the basic document which undergirds the wheel. A superb read: http://worldcoffeeresearch.org/images/p ... 1_2016.pdf

Advisory group included:

Peter Giuliano,
Specialty Coffee Association of America

Timothy Hill,
Counter Culture Coffee

Rhonda Miller,
Texas A&M University

Thompsen Owen,
Sweet Maria's

Trish Rothgeb,
Wrecking Ball Roasters & Coffee Quality Institute

Christy Thorns,
Allegro Coffee
-----
LMWDP #339

User avatar
Marshall (original poster)

#20: Post by Marshall (original poster) »

WCR is posting daily explanations of the Sensory Lexicon this Week on Facebook. Today's may be particularly useful: "WCR Sensory Lexicon explained, Part 2: Why we need it and what it's not" http://on.fb.me/1UbTiS8
Marshall
Los Angeles