You'll notice that CoffeeRadar demonstrates core characteristics of a coffee using a 'radar' or spider graph. It shows a rating for Overall, Aroma, Flavour, Aftertaste, Acidity, Body and Balance.
CoffeeRadar didn't develop the radar, we found it over at our friends Little Italy Coffee Roasters and have asked their permission to shamelessly expand its use on our site. Now without getting all goey on you, some back story is required!
CoffeeRadar is based out of Dubbo, NSW, Australia. A place far, far from Sydney, let alone the coffee mecca of Melbourne. My regular cafe haunt was CSC because their coffee was regularly great. I didn't know why it was great at the time, just that it was. I noticed they'd started selling Single Origin coffee, which I tried, and I liked, and one day I happened to notice their coffees came from a mob called Little Italy Coffee Roasters. Awesome - all these different coffees to try!
Fast forward, a new cafe opens up, The Auctioneer, and I try their coffee and it knocks me for a six; loved it. Asked who it was made by and Little Italy Coffee Roasters comes up again. The blend is Sweet Maria if you're interested - it's great!
All this time I'm getting deeper and deeper down the coffee rabbit hole, trying to determine which flavour profile comes from where, looking at how to roast at home (try it! you'll appreciate good coffee more!), how to get better at making coffee, how coffee tasting works, how it's grown etc etc. Full nine yards.
Fast forward again, COVID hits and I'm working from home and homeschooling with my lovely kids. This is a situation that demands coffee. Hit up the LICR website, and was blown away at how much impact a simple graph can make in informing the reader in making a buying decision over and above vague and clumsy references to nuts, chocolate and citrus flavours which are even more subjective!
Below are some ways of thinking about the radar that you might find helpful; these are my own musings, not LICR's so any error is my own.
(Mountains of writing exists on the internet about coffee terminology - have a good read)
Which coffees will *probably* suit you. Taste is an inexact science, and describing it an even harder art. I know I like certain types of flavour in a blend, but it doesn't mean I'll like all coffee which is described that way, or that I won't love coffee which is described differently.
You bring your own meanings to these terms. You bring your own taste, smell and history. So do Roasters. My 8 and your 8 are different. Our appreciation of each of the components in the radar will be different. Rather than something that we need force to a point where it's scientifically accurate to the 99.9999% percentile, realise that the radar is a guide, an indicator of what is being presented. It's not a promise you will rate it that way as well.
A coffee rated 10 for everything is likely going to be somewhat average. Like music, if everything is perfect, then the result is underwhelming because there is no contrast. I hope we can prevent tomfoolery with the rating around this and will be on the lookout for it. Realise, dear coffee lover, that it's unlikely anything would be sold if it rated consistently on the lower end. I hope Roasters take the opportunity to be honest with how they perceive their roasts. Part of the joy I've had in discovering coffee is seeking out the differences and the radar helps with that.
Coffee lovers tend to be passionate, and what can come with passion is conflict over being 'right' or 'best'. CoffeeRadar is here to help you find coffee that amazes you. Coffee is a natural product which is subject to so many variables from bean to cup, and in how an individual approaches that cup that it continuously blows my mind. The radar is a pointer in the right direction. It is very much a journey and not a destination.
I hope the radar helps you find coffee that amazes you and that you'll appreciate it (and LICR) as much I do.