The goal here is simpler. When you smell and taste an unusual coffee, you should try to come up with a short description that will allow you to identify the coffee when you taste it again. You can use words from the taste wheels, from other standard flavor lists like the similar but less systematic UC Davis Wine Aroma wheel, or from the everyday tastes and smells of your kitchen. If the word that comes to mind is not on anyone's list; use it and don't worry. The purpose of describing coffees is so you remember and appreciate them. Word lists are just starting points.
Coffee flavor is a term that encompasses all of the other coffee cupping parameters. It is an overall evaluation of the coffee taste. The SCAA created a coffee flavor wheel, which is used as a helpful guide during coffee cupping. The full poster is in color and includes another wheel to describe flavor and aroma taints.
To the right is a flavor wheel created in 1997 by the Specialty Coffee Association of America, the Colombian Coffee Federation, and Jean Lenoir. It's part of the poster called, The Coffee Tasters' Flavor Wheel that you can buy on the SCAA website. It will help you describe the tastes and aromas you experience. Does the coffee taste sweet, tangy or mild? Do you taste small hints of chocolate, vanilla, smoke, or cinnamon? The possibilities are endless. Of course if you want more powerful flavor, then can you order flavored coffees. But these are not the same as a coffee that displays hints of such flavors.
I used it during a coffee cupping at a trade show. I was a total novice. Before the show, I could muster only half-witted descriptions like g"this tastes strong! This coffee is a little soupy. " But with the Flavor Wheel, I was soon saying things like e"it does taste like tea rose with a little lemon and a little like berry jam! This other one has a dark chocolate taste and a bit of molasses with a little tobacco! Too much CHARRING in this one...d" It was AWESOME. It's like you're talking a whole new language in 10 seconds. And it gives you a language to remember the coffee later so that you know that you liked the Indonesian better than the Costa Rican coffee, and -- best of all -- you have the words why.