Evaluation of a sensory and cognitive online training tool for odor recognition in professional coffee tasters

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The sense of smell plays an essential role in the sensory evaluation of coffee. However, a precise sensory evaluation also requires good memory and the ability to stay focused and concentrated. This study aimed to investigate the effect of an online sensory and cognitive training program on the odor recognition of 36 coffee aromas. A total of 44 coffee professionals participated in a randomized crossover trial. It consisted of an online training program with different sensory and cognitive tasks over two periods of 6 weeks. The participants were divided into three study groups for data analysis purposes: a Control-first group (n = 16), a matching Intervention-first group (n = 16), and a second Intervention-first-residual group (n = 12) to check for repeatability of the test results. On average, the participants improved their odor recognition score by 15% after 6 weeks of training (p <.01) and maintained a high-performance level after the control period. A positive correlation between completed training and improvement was observed (p <.001). The participants significantly improved their ability to detect the 36 Le Nez du Café aromas commonly used in the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) and the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) exam systems. Practical Applications: The new online training program is a promising tool for improving the odor recognition of coffee professionals. The sensory training can easily be accomplished as it is executable off-site, is self-instructive, and does not require any supervision. A further generalization of this new odor-training program for noncoffee professionals may potentially train people with prolonged loss in olfactory function, such as observed in coronavirus disease 2019 patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12819
JournalJournal of Sensory Studies
Issue number3
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study is a part of an industrial PhD project supported by a grant (5189‐00086B) from the Innovation Fund Denmark and CoffeeMind. Without partner organizations worldwide, this project would not have been possible; the time, effort, resources, and risks taken by Coffee Support, Rose Van Asten, Acts29, and Arabian Coffee Institute to make this happen are deeply appreciated. Jesper Alstrup, Christina Josefine Birke Rune, Signe Gadegaard, Christian Behrens, and Konstantinos Arapogiannis are thanked for their contribution to developing the sensory training program.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Journal of Sensory Studies published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.

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