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Specialty Coffee Association of America
Specialty Coffee Association of America

172 Words to Describe Coffee From the Official Taster’s Flavor Wheel

Specialty Coffee Association of America
Specialty Coffee Association of America

Most people would describe their coffee fairly simply: hot, black, sweet, expensive. But there’s an organization, the Specialty Coffee Association of America, that takes the art of explaining what a cup of joe tastes like very, very seriously. The SCAA was established in 1982 by “a small group of coffee professionals” who felt a set of standards were necessary for the growing specialty java market. And given today’s astonishing range of options, from hand-roasted civet-processed beans to instant grounds perfected by 250 years' worth of trial and error, those coffee pros were probably right.

The SCAA’s Flavor Wheel, which offers a full descriptive glossary for both good coffee and bad coffee, is standard-use for modern coffee cuppers. What was once merely “strong” can now be “warming, with notes of cedar and clove.” And bad coffee, which gets the lion’s share of excellent adjectives, can be “sweaty,” “horsey,” “mildewy,” or reminiscent of wet wool, kerosene, or iodine.

(Click the image to see a larger version.)


Image via SCAA.org.

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The Flavor Wheel glossary is used in training coffee growers, roasters, sellers, and brewers who join the SCAA. And now you can pretend to be a 'coffee sommelier' at fancy parties or, perhaps more realistically, at the office to annoy coworkers. If you’re interested in becoming a better coffee cupper, the organization also has a list of standards for brewing a perfect cup. You can purchase a poster or high-res digital download of the Flavor Wheel from their website.

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m01229, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
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environment
Dunkin' Donuts is Ditchin' Their Foam Cups
m01229, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
m01229, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

There are certain tactile sensations that consumers associate with fast-service franchises. Go into a McDonald’s and you’re likely to walk out with a French fry container soaked in grease. Head to Taco Bell and your takeout bag will be heavy with hot sauce packets. At Dunkin’ Donuts, a thick-walled foam cup keeps your hand cool while your coffee stays hot.

Not for much longer. This week, Dunkin’ announced plans to insulate their beverages in a more environmentally friendly way. Beginning this spring, the company will eliminate the polystyrene foam containers they currently use in favor of a new, double-walled paper cup, a move that's expected to remove 1 billion foam cups from waste streams annually.

The paperboard used in the cups—which will come in the chain’s standard four sizes, from small to extra large—is certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard and is said to have heat retention properties equivalent to the current foam cup. Dunkin’ is promising that consumers won’t need a cardboard sleeve to insulate themselves against the heat.

“With more than 9000 Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in the U.S. alone, our decision to eliminate foam cups is significant for both our brand and our industry," Karen Raskopf, Dunkin’ Donuts's chief communications and sustainability officer, said in a statement. “We have a responsibility to improve our packaging, making it better for the planet while still meeting the needs of our guests. Transitioning away from foam has been a critical goal for Dunkin’ Donuts U.S., and with the double-walled cup, we will be able to offer a replacement that meets the needs and expectations of both our customers and the communities we serve.”

The move is scheduled to begin in New York and California and spread to all Dunkin’ locations worldwide by 2020.

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Palmpress
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Food
This Tiny Press Lets You Brew Barista-Quality Coffee Anywhere
Palmpress
Palmpress

Whether you prefer the convenience of single-serve pods or the high quality of pour-over coffee, there’s a brewing method out there to suit your tastes. As Co.Design reports, one of the latest options is the Palmpress, a hand-held silicone brewer that combines the ease of using pods with the delicious taste of more time-consuming brewing methods.

To use it, just fill the press with ground coffee and pour in hot water. Then, screw on the lid and allow the grounds to steep for three minutes. Similar to less-portable options like the Clever dripper or a French press, the Palmpress uses immersion brewing to extract the coffee evenly, giving you a smooth taste every time.

Once the coffee is done steeping, it’s ready to pour: Flip the press upside down onto the top of your mug and compress the silicone base. When you push it down, the Palmpress releases a perfectly-portioned serving of coffee into your cup.

The Palmpress is completely reusable and doesn't require any paper filters, plastic pods, or other supplies destined to end up in the trash, making it both wallet- and eco-friendly. The press only makes 8 ounces at a time, so it’s not ideal if you want to make more than one cup of coffee, but its small size (it's around 2 inches tall when collapsed) makes it an appealing option for traveling, camping, and days when you just can't stomach the thought of the office Keurig.

The Palmpress is currently out of stock, but it will cost $39 when supplies become available again.

And if you’re really looking to improve your morning coffee experience, there’s more you can do beyond updating your equipment. From what kind of water to use to the perfect temperature, here are some tips for brewing coffee at home.

[h/t Co.Design]

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