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What’s Going On in Sensory Evaluation, with Gail Vance Civille

A service to the entire specialty coffee world, SCAA Symposium has been releasing a number videos from the most recent Symposium in April. Latest in the series came July 2, featuring Gail Vance Civille of Sensory Spectrum, Inc., who has been tasting professionally for nearly 50 years.

(related: Slurping in Context: A Look at Intelligentsia’s New Cupping Form)

Far less an educational seminar than an update on the cutting edge of sensory evaluation, Civille spends much of her portion of the “Sensory Science and Talking About Tasting” session talking about the science and theory behind pairings and flavor combinations, beginning with general theory and moving into wine/chocolate and coffee/pastries — the idea being that coffee professionals can through trial-and-error come up with flavor combinations that will create lasting positive memories among consumers.

(related: The New Taster’s Flavor Wheel: A Recalibration of Coffee Dialogue)

Enlightening for entirely different reasons is Civille’s discussion of the current state of tasting and how the highly specialized field in coffee may need to move forward — namely, developing and defining lexicons for the purposes of quality grading, marketing to consumers, and industry-specific research. Here’s her talk in full, courtesy of SCAA Symposium:

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