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Coffee varieties of mesoamerica and the caribbean

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World Coffee Research Sensory Lexicon

A tool for understanding and measuring coffee's flavors and aromas

Lexicon 2.0 published October 2017—Includes new, globally available references for 24 attributes:  Sour, Bitter, Salty, Apple, Grape, Coconut, Pineapple, Acetic acid, Butyric acid, Isovaleric acid, Fermented, Peapod, Fresh, Papery, Musty/Earthy, Musty/Dusty, Moldy/Damp, Phenolic, Petroleum, Brown Spice, Almond, Vanillin, Floral, and Jasmine.

The lexicon is available free to all for downloading and printing of personal-use copies.

The largest collaborative research project on coffee's flavors and aromas ever done.

Created at the Sensory Analysis Center at Kansas State University, the lexicon identifies 110 flavor, aroma, and texture attributes present in coffee, and provides references for measuring their intensity. The purpose of the lexicon is to advance our understanding of coffee quality and how it is created, so that we may continue to increase it.

The lexicon isn't just the culmination of scientific work, it is an enabler of future research. World Coffee Research is using the lexicon to analyze coffee samples from multiple research projects in conjunction with chemical and genetic analysis in order to understand the origins of coffee quality. 

Projects that will utilize the lexicon:

  • Variety Intelligence: Examining 20+ varieties from Central America to evaluate flavor and aroma differences across varieties
  • IMLVT: 35 varieties being grown in 19 countries; a key study for understanding the genetics x environment (GxE) interaction as it relates to coffee quality
  • Breeding for the future: Creating the next generation of coffee varieties that are high quality and resilient

The Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel

The WCR Sensory Lexicon is the basis for a new Coffee Flavor Taster's Wheel, the first redesign of this standard reference tool in 20 years.

Flavor wheel
  • Authors: World Coffee Research
  • Leaders: Edward Chambers (Kansas State University), Rhonda Miller (Texas A&M University)
  • Partners: Kansas State University Sensory Analysis Center, Texas A&M University
  • Timeline: 2014-2016