SCA publishes Coffee Sensory and Cupping Handbook

SCA handbook

The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) has published the first edition of its Coffee Sensory and Cupping Handbook, co-authored by Dr. Mario R. Fernández-Alduenda and Peter Giuliano.

This handbook expands on Ted R. Lingle’s Coffee Cupper’s Handbook, published in 1986.

The Coffee Sensory and Cupping Handbook collates more than 30 years of scientific advancements in the field of sensory science, which is the study of understanding human perceptions of smell, taste, and mouthfeel.

These studies were combined with cupping practices designed by SCA, resulting in advancement of flavour language, as demonstrated in the new handbooks revision of the Coffee Tasters’ Flavor Wheel.

“It is no exaggeration to say the specialty coffee industry is founded on the concept of flavour,” say the authors in the introduction.

“And since flavour is perceived by the senses of smell and taste, the concept of sensory evaluation, communication, and understanding is critical to the skill set of any coffee professional and is essential to any coffee business.”

Until the specialty coffee movement in the 1960s and 1970s, the SCA says coffee sensory evaluation was rarely practised by anyone outside green coffee traders and roasters.

The publication of Lingle’s handbook in 1986 introduced fresh ideas to the field of sensory analysis, and laid the foundational understanding of coffee quality and attributes.

“Sensory analysis has gone hand-in-hand with coffee ever since, and has evolved alongside the industry,” says the SCA.

“The Coffee Sensory and Cupping Handbook introduces new tools to help coffee professionals understand the complexity and value of their product, while providing valuable context to help readers understand their own coffee sensory experience.”

The handbook is also designed to educate sensory professionals on the basics of sensory science and the sensory tools used in any coffee profession.

It is also intended to provide guidance to coffee sensory scientists, assisting with understanding the unique needs and tools of the coffee trade, and providing the bridge between the coffee sensory community and the broader sensory community.

“It is the most complete and well-researched work on this topic to date, and is intended to provide an approachable and practical guide to the complexity of coffee and sensory science, to any and every coffee professional,” says the SCA

An early release of the print edition will be launching on International Coffee Day on 1 October at the Specialty Coffee Expo in New Orleans, which will run from 30 Sep to 3 October.

The print and digital editions will officially launch in the SCA Store, available to American and European audiences in late October.

“We hope this book will help bring some good sensory practices to the everyday work of coffee professionals, to reduce bias and error, and improve the conclusions we draw from our daily sensory work, without taking away the enjoyment of coffee flavour that drives our passion for the product,” says the SCA.

“Conversely, we hope this book will help sensory scientists to view coffee as a unique product category with an exquisitely complex flavour and to understand the potential of working with the thousands of passionate and keen coffee tasters of our industry.”

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