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ASEAN Coffee Federation Releases the ASEAN Flavour Sphere

ASEAN Flavour Sphere

A preview version of the ASEAN Flavour Sphere. The full version is available with registration at this link.

The ASEAN Coffee Federation (ACF) has launched the “ASEAN Flavour Sphere,” a visual tool for use during coffee cupping that is designed to reflect and promote Southeast Asian coffees.

The Flavour Sphere is an obvious counterpoint to the Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel, a popular resource among coffee roasting and quality-control professionals created by the Specialty Coffee Association of America — now the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) — in 1995.

The SCA flavor wheel received a major revision in 2016, in part in an attempt to create a “universal language” for coffee evaluation. By contrast, the coffee Flavour Sphere is geared toward regionality.

The ASEAN Coffee Federation (ACF) — whose membership includes coffee associations representing producers in Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Laos and Myanmar — said the new ASEAN Flavor Sphere is designed to “promote inclusivity of ASEAN coffee within the industry.”

“As a region, ASEAN produces almost 33% of the world coffee supply, with Vietnam and Indonesia leading the pack,” ACF President Victor Mah said in a launch announcement over the weekend. “ASEAN plays a significant role in the coffee market and it is time that the region has its own flavour wheel.”

The Flavour Sphere was developed by the ACF’s official education arm, the ASEAN Coffee Institute (ACI). The group said data used to compile the Flavour Sphere came through ongoing ACI work involving Q Graders from numerous Southeast Asian countries, as the group seeks to develop an ASEAN-specific standard for roasting, grinding, grading and cupping ASEAN coffees.

The ASEAN sphere includes nine primary flavor categories, some with secondary categories. Within those broader categories are between four and 12 specific notes, including a number of regionally specific flavors. The ASEAN-specific flavors are most abundant in the fruity/tropical and floral categories. 

The announcement from ACF comes just two months after the SCA announced it was appointing its own task force to create a more “accessible” and “transparent” system for professional coffee cuppers and graders throughout the industry. The United States- and UK-based organization is planning to unveil a new SCA Cupping and Grading Protocol in 2023.

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