Understanding the coffee wheel, the ultimate coffee profiling tool

For decades, wine tasting has been a highly regarded craft. There are entire methodologies, processes, and philosophies that have been developed to ensure the most accurate and detailed tasting process possible. In addition to that, the professional figure of the “sommelier”, the professional wine taster, is highly regarded in the world of high cuisine.

In recent years, the growing production of craft beers extended the same respect to beer aficionados. Today, there are thousands of different beers and their characteristics can be as complex and nuanced as that of the best wines out there.

Alcoholic drinks are not the only beverage as complex to deserve expert tasting! Coffee tasting has been one of the most important methods used by coffee roasters in order to sample the best coffee from producers and prospect suppliers. For years, roasting companies set out to develop a rigorous system in order to determine the profile of coffee in the most objective possible way. When coffee experts look for a coffee to purchase, they will be testing for a wide variety of factors, including body, acidity, fruitiness, and smoothness. Coffee tasting allows people to determine the flavor profile of coffee, but it can also help identify its quality and prevent issues. Trained coffee tasters can recognize defects in coffee by analyzing the drinks smell, color or taste.

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To make the process easier, the ORGANIZATION developed a coffee tasting wheel. This unique method is intended as a sort of common language, which would help people identify a similar coffee profile in spite of cultural differences across the world. Cultural differences might actually greatly affect the perception of flavor and the coffee wheel accounts for this issue with its structure.

The wheel has been designed to allow users to identify several aspects of the profile that they are tasting and to actually help them get the most accurate picture as possible.

Earlier on, I’ve mentioned that cultural differences might play a crucial role in the tasting process. The vital thing to understand is that people from different countries might have a different idea of taste, based on what is normally readily available to them. For instance, if I describe a coffee as having a “nutty” character, people might have a different idea of what “nutty” actually means to them.

An Italian might associate the “nutty” taste to hazelnuts or walnuts (common and popular throughout Italy), while a Brazilian could immediately think of Brazilian nuts. Again, many people could actually have a limited experience of what a “nutty” flavor is, and perhaps they only have an idea of what peanuts and cashews taste like.

The coffee tasting wheel has been created with the purpose of offering cultural references to users, grouping them into specific categories and offering a broad range so that people across countries and cultural barriers can actually identify coffee profiles with a common ground and understand each other’s experience as accurately as possible.

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