Coffee Aroma Profiling with Paul: Le Nez Du Café

The translation of le nez du café is quite simply the nose of coffee.  Others, however, translate it to make scents of coffee.  In other words, le nez du café is the aroma of coffee.  To many, coffee smells like…well…coffee.  But to the experts, such as our Q Grader and Bean Hunter Paul Massard, coffee can smell like earth, chocolate and even potato.  As a matter of fact, there are 800 different aromas that coffee can give off.  And thanks to aroma profiling kits from Le Nez Du Café, Paul can identify the aroma of each Roasterie coffee (pretty impressive, huh?).

Le Nez Du Café kits include the most typical aromas found in the world’s best coffees.  Aroma and aroma identification are essential to the quality of a coffee product.  And it’s important to be able to recognize them in order to master tasting (which is where Paul comes in).

How does an aroma profiling kit work?  Simply smell each of the aromas in the collection carefully.  Then, name what you smell.  The more often you use this kit, the more acute your sense of smell will become and you will begin to assimilate both the scents in coffee (through the nose) and its aromas (through the palate).

This Roasterie blogger sat down with Paul one Friday morning in Kansas City to learn more about aroma profiling of coffee.  I was lucky enough to dig into and test a Le Nez Du Café kit and smell various “vials” that coffee can smell like.  Unfortunately for me, everything I smelled I guessed wrong.  When I was smelling vanilla, the aroma was really identified as peas.  When I thought I was smelling syrup, the aroma was classified as basmati rice.  Whenever Paul smelled a particular aroma, he got it right.  Every. Single. Time.

What other coffee aromas did we experience?  Butter, caramel, roasted peanuts, cucumber, hazelnuts and even rubber (yes, coffee can have a rubber-like aroma!).

Coffee aroma profiling is a tedious and challenging task–in fact, it is part of the difficult Q Grader test that Paul had to pass just a few years ago.  But it is also one of the most important qualities of coffee.  After all, it’s that fresh, coffee aroma that truly wakes our senses.  Seems as if there is more to coffee than meets the eye (or nose!).

Want to take Coffee 101?  Join us for our coffee workshops on Saturdays!  Take a tour and stick around after the 12:00 tour to learn more about Roasterie coffee.