The coffee taster’s flavor wheel is used to describe what coffee tastes like. The coffee taste profile is an important element in judging a cup of coffee. The flavors help determine the quality of the coffee. For example, if a cup of Ethiopian coffee falls under “petroleum” on the coffee flavor wheel, then that means there is something wrong with that particular batch of coffee being sampled.
Understanding where coffee falls in the flavor wheel also helps the consumer select the type of coffee they want. For example, a coffee that falls under “grapefruit” in the coffee flavor wheel will tell me that the coffee is fruity and citrusy. Then you can decide whether or not you want to buy it. Coffee is complex and therefore the coffee flavor wheel has a lot of categories. Having multiple categories is necessary due to the many factors that affect the coffee taste profile (i.e. country of origin, growing region, type of bean, quality of the harvest, processing methods, roasting style, etc.).
I wanted to simplify the coffee flavors. So I created a category list of general flavors in order to help you understand how certain coffees taste. I included a list of the countries where the coffees are from. You can see them under each flavor category. Of course, the best source to use in understanding the coffee taste profile is the coffee flavor wheel. But let’s keep this simple for now. Next to some coffees on this list are the words “complex coffees.” These are coffees that can easily cross over into other categories based on the region where it was grown. To be fair, most coffees can subtly cross over into other categories. The list below is just a broad generalization of the predominant flavor found in a particular coffee.
Coffees that Taste Like Chocolate
Columbia (Complex Coffees)
Peru (Actually more on the nutty side)
Coffees that Taste Like Sweet Fruit
Coffees that are Floral
Jamaica (Complex Coffees)
Coffees that are Earthy (Think oaky, smoky, woody, spicy, and/or tobacco)
Papua New Guinea
As stated earlier, some coffees can overlap into each category. There will be profound flavors in one category with smaller notes from another (i.e. the complex coffees). One example is coffee from Yemen, which can wildly cross over into any category. It is a very complex coffee that has been described as Earthy, nutty, gamey, spicy, fruity, or chocolaty. I wanted to provide a general and broad guide to help you understand how these coffees taste. Of course this is not an all-inclusive list but I hope it helps. So go forth and select that delicious and amazing cup of coffee.