The Sensory Lexicon

How would you describe the taste of a strawberry to someone who has never tasted a strawberry?  If someone tastes a wine and describe it as having notes of blue berry, could you taste the wine and know what to look for?


This is how a sensony lexicon or dictionary can help.   Unfortunately, it is not something you can read through and simply know.  Rather see it as a road map which you can use on your journey.

Coffee comes from the seed of a fruit, so it stand to reason that during roasting coffee can develop various flavours.  Whereas wine has around 200 aromatic compunds, coffee has around 850, so strap in and enjoy the journey.

On to the Lexicon!

The lexicon was developed by World Coffee Research and you can Download a PDF Copy for free.

To get back to the question posed in the intro on describing and learning how stawberry taste and smell, here is how the lexicon works:


15 point intensity scale

Intensity Scale.jpg

But what about the flavour weel?


The SCAA Flavour Weel is a great tool to assist you in describing coffee.  It does so by guiding you in first determining flavor group from the inner ring and then as you build up your own lexicon within your neural pathways, you can break up what you taste in the second and third wheel and beyond.  When you become a pro, like the baristas taking part the World Barista Championships, you can go beyond this.  I heard one barista, describing one of the flavors in his coffee as “melted dark chocolate ice-cream”!

The Flavor wheel was actually developed from the Lexicon.  I found this great video about the development of the Lexicon.




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