Peer-reviewed academic journals publish World Coffee Research Sensory Lexicon research
On the same week, two major academic papers in coffee sensory were published in open-access, peer-reviewed journals. The first describes the creation of the World Coffee Research Sensory Lexicon, by a team of sensory scientists at Kansas State University and Texas A&M. The second describes how the work from the lexicon was adapted by researchers at UC Davis and the Specialty Coffee Association of America to create a new version of the Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel, the first time the iconic wheel has been based on the work of expert scientists.
On the creation of the WCR Sensory Lexicon. Chambers, E. IV, Sanchez, K., Phan, U.T.X., Miller, R., and Civille, G.V. 2016. Development of a "Living" Lexicon for Descriptive Sensory Analysis of Brewed Coffee. Journal of Sensory Studies 31: 465–480. DOI: 10.1111/joss.12237
Read the paper here.
On the creation of the Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel. Spencer, M., Sage, E., Velez, M., and Guinard, J-X. 2016. Using Single Free Sorting and Multivariate Exploratory Methods to Design a New Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel. Journal of Food Science 81(12): S2997–S3005. DOI: 10.1111/1750-3841.13555
Both the WCR Sensory Lexicon and the Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel were released to the public in early 2016. These academic publications come about nine months later. Why the delay? Because respected academic journals follow a process called "peer review" in which outside experts in the subject of a given piece of research are consulted to review and comment on the quality of the research. It's an opportunity to ask the researchers for clarification, and sometimes to say unequivocally: This research isn't rigorous enough. These experts help distinguish between genuinely new and important results from those previously known, correct results from incorrect, relevant problems from irrelevant, significant results from insignificant, interesting results from dull, and the proper use of scientific methods from being sloppy. In short, they help ensure that research is high quality.
Research that is subjected to peer review has the chance to become better research, and to be communicated more clearly to other researchers and the public. So the publication of research in peer reviewed academic journals matters.
But not all academic publications are created equal. One of the most important innovations in the last decade is the advent of Open Access publishing. This means research is provided free of charge instead of being hidden behind paywalls that only those with university library access can get. We are enormously pleased that both of the papers below have been published Open Access so that everyone can read them. Special thanks goes to Peets Coffee & Tea, which sponsored the Open Access publication of the flavor wheel paper.
You can purchase the Coffee Flavor Wheel posters, tshirts, and tote bags here. A portion of proceeds are given to World Coffee Research to advance research on coffee quality.