Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel with Cups of coffee and coffee beans on top of it

How-To: Read and use the Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel

If you’ve ever had a cup of coffee chances are you’ve read about its tasting notes. The bag says “Cherry and Apple, with a hint of Cocoa” or “Dark Molasses with Clove and Nutmeg”. When your first starting out these notes can feel random and sometimes absurd! How do we get to these notes? Luckily for us, the Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel is right at our fingertips. 

This iconic resource has been an industry standard for over two decades. Originally published in 1995, this wheel gives us a basis for our vocabulary when it comes to describing the many unique experiences we have with each cup of coffee.

Girl cup tasting different coffees

How do I read the Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel?

You don’t have to be an industry expert to read and enjoy the flavor wheel or coffee for that matter! 

Your first step is to brew some coffee. As you prepare and brew, take note of the many aromas. The characteristics of coffee are best understood when fragrance and taste work together. 

Once your coffee is brewed, take in the aroma. Then take a drink. Savor the coffee as you sip and draw from flavors you already know. What does this coffee remind you of? Now we can turn to the wheel.

 The Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel

Start at the center of the wheel. Are you tasting fruity or nutty flavors? Sour or Sweet? From there you can move outward. If you are tasting a familiar fruitiness does it remind you of grapes? Strawberries? Once you identify your first flavor, move back to the center and start the process over until you feel you’ve fully described the range of flavors in your cup.

With anything in life, tasting these notes takes practice. The more coffee you try, the more you sit and ask yourself “What flavors do I recognize here?”, the better and more fine tuned your tasting notes will become! 

A great way to experience a wide range of unique coffees is with our Ultimate Travelers Set! This set contains 9 different single-origin coffees. Perfect for someone looking to refine their tasting skills.


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