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Coffee Culture

Specialty Coffee and the New SCAA Coffee Taster's Wheel

A traditional instrument upgraded for the new tasting.

The Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel has always been a fundamental tool in the professional tasting, in order to perceive and then correctly to describe all the aromatic notes of coffee.
The first version dates back some 21 years ago.

Created by SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America), this wheel was used until a few weeks ago, when the association itself has presented an updated edition, new and innovative.
It has always been linked to the Specialty Coffee as a fundamental tool for its correct assessment.
The term Specialty is due to Erna Knutsen, American citizen of Norwegian origin, who in 1978, during a Coffee Conference in France, described for the first time the key points for its definition:

  • Correct and Careful Cultivation
  • Optimal Processing of harvested coffee
  • Fresh Roasting
  • Proper Extraction

The woman, secretary in a company that was selling coffee and spices, one day bought from a small coffee producer a lot of coffee, that had been advised to her by its quality and then resold it to regular customers. The product obtained immediately a large number of consents, and since then the demand for excellent coffee grew steadily.
Thus the Specialty Coffee was born and subsequently the SCAA, starting its promotion in the United States and around the world with increasing success, introduced the Coffee Flavor Wheel.
This protocol, in use as the operating method for the evaluation of the sensory qualities of coffee, follows precise olfactory and gustatory criteria, allowing it to give a real value (called SCORE, which must have a score between 80 and 100 points) to each Specialty, with a real score that determines the quality.

The New Coffee Flavor Wheel is visually more intuitive than the previous one.
The colours are designed in such a way as to be more easily associated to the various types and categories of taste, for example:

Acid = Yellow 
Citric fruit = orange
Plant origin = green
Floral = pink 
Cocoa = brown 
and so on.

In the new edition taste and flavour they are no longer divided as in the previous one; further  there are also missing some items, these have been replaced by many others.
It is divided into:
  • 9 major groups (eg. sweet, fruity, floral, vegetable)
  • 16 categories (eg. Chemical, acid, burnt, spicy)
  • 86 flavors (eg. Honey, jasmine, cinnamon, hazelnut)
The New Wheel can be used in combination with the SENSORY GLOSSARY, a sort of common vocabulary for all professionals in the coffee sector.

The new SCAE ITALIA, born a few months ago to promote in our country the culture and knowledge of artisan coffee, valuable niche product in constant growth and evolution, has from now on a new tool, more advanced and complete, to pursue its path in an always more professional and comprehensive way.