The Flavor Wheel: Specialty Coffee's Best-Kept Secret
On each bag of Bow Truss coffee, you will find three carefully selected flavor notes. Other coffee companies present similar notes on their bags.
Today, we are making public a long-held trade secret: these flavor notes are generated by a very peculiar coffee industry ritual, invented by Hills Brothers coffee company in San Francisco in the early 1900s: the flavor wheel.
To be more precise, it is now flavor wheels — the recent explosion of specialty roasters means that the SCAA had to develop extra wheels.
Here’s how it works: at the annual US Barista Champonship, the competitors, in order of their score, spin a large game show wheel. Whatever flavor note the wheel ends on belongs to that company for the coming year. No one else may use it. Baristas spin the wheel (now wheels, as there are so many competitors) to earn good tasting notes for their companies’ packaging.
Bow Truss is proud to increase transparency by sharing the existence of this practice.