The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) and World Coffee Research designed the Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel as a tool for the coffee taster. Whether a casual taster or seasoned professional cupper, the flavor wheel will help you analyze and describe coffee.
Brew Some Coffee
Select and carefully prepare some coffee. We suggest a manual brewing method to give you maximum opportunity to observe the coffee: the fragrance after grinding, the aromas released as the brew water activates the grounds, and the flavors you experience on your palate while sipping.
How To Use It?
The wheel’s design places the most general taste descriptors near the center, getting more specific as you work outward. As you taste a coffee and discover a flavor, begin by locating it in the center ring. Next, continue to further refine its description by moving outward to the adjacent sectors. Notice the colors associated with the wheel descriptors. They are there to assist with fixing a particular description.
Here's an example: The Ethiopian coffee you brewed presents a general fruitiness, which you locate as "Fruity" on the inner ring. Moving outward you decide it's more "Berry" than "Citrus." And then further, quite like "Blueberry."
That's how you do it. Move back to the center, and start again with another flavor, continuing the cycle until you feel the description of the coffee is complete.
Run With The Wheel
Those are the basics of the Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel. If you're interested in the science behind, and scientific use of, the flavor wheel, search for related articles on SCA.