The Coffee Tasters Flavour Wheel is only a fairly recent addition to the coffee lovers armory. Published in 1995 it is a collaboration between the Specialty Coffee Roasters Association of America (SCAA) and World Coffee Research (WCR).
Designed primarily as a tool for coffee tasters it uses standardised descriptors to aid with research and development of coffee and the benefits have flowed down to the everyday coffee lover.
The Tasters wheel is standardised and well defined with each section having a specific standard flavour associated with it. For example. In the segment FRUITY / OTHER FRUITS / APPLE the flavour standard is Le Nez du Cafe n 17 “apple” Intensity 7. To determine fruity apple aromas the standard comparative flavour is stated. In this way the coffee wheel can be learnt definitively.
While that is great for the boffins there is a practical use for everyone. Your favourite coffee can be charted on the wheel and your preferences and dislikes understood. An industry standard like Campos superior beans definitely has strong fruity and citrus notes. This may lead you to ONA’s Raspberry Candy beans which has a less acidic but more confectionery raspberry flavour and so on.
It is not quite as simple to put a single dot on the wheel as coffees may share characteristics across the wheel like a spicy mango note and a spider chart is often used to rate all of the characteristics.
The world of coffee flavours can open up to you dependent on your preferences when coffees are placed on the tasting wheel.