​​Describe Your Desired Flavor Profile With These Common Descriptors

Understanding how to talk about the ideal flavor for your product requires a unique vocabulary to capture all the attributes desired. After all, every industry uses its own jargon to describe its components—construction workers are familiar with materials, measurements, and tools, whereas people in the finance industry speak in numbers and acronyms—and the flavor industry is no exception with vast descriptors

Flavor Profile Descriptors 

What makes the flavor industry unique is the use of flavor profile descriptors, which are much more subjective and nebulous than their adjectival counterparts in most other industries. If you’re in the flavor development process for your own product, it’s important to be able to describe the flavor profile you desire. Communicating the flavor needs of your product is the most surefire way to know that they’ll be met in the manufacturing process. 

In this article, we’re going to look at some common flavor descriptors, shown visibly through flavor charts that we refer to as “flavor wheels.” Flavor wheels help us narrow down descriptive terms that relate to our senses of taste and smell. The human palate is a complex combination of the olfactory and gustatory senses. A flavor wheel helps to capture both aroma and taste. These wheels help create a language for both common and uncommon characteristics of flavors we talk about from orange to chocolate

A Look At The Flavor Wheel

While there are entire flavor wheels that describe all sorts of food from coffee to chocolate, to whiskey, and everything in between, we’re going to take a look at the honey and coffee flavor wheels so that you can better understand how they relate to the wide range of characteristics each of these foods has; from herbal to fruity, there is a descriptor for every nuance you may experience.

Photo Credit: Maryiza

This honey flavor wheel from Maryiza is a beautiful example of the many ways we can describe a flavor profile, beginning with broader categories in the center and expanding out into many specific and detailed descriptors. 

As you can see, there are many intricate ways to describe a flavor. While floral, fruity, and nutty are common descriptors, other ones might be more niche, such as musk, the mineral zing of soil, and the woody waft of eucalyptus. These flavor descriptors might feel a bit strange to work into your vocabulary but keep in mind that the complexity of the human palette is vast and discussing what petrol or barnyard-inspiring smells may bring to or take away from a product is both valid and necessary in flavor development.

Photo Credit: Not Bad Coffee

This flavor wheel from Not Bad Coffee is another example of descriptive language we can use to discuss flavors and smells. Ranging from acids to spices to pipe tobacco, the beauty of flavor descriptors is that there is seemingly no limit to how specific you can get, and your descriptor doesn’t have to exist on one of these flavor wheels to be valid and useful.

Learning To Describe Flavor 

While we can use the flavor wheel to describe what we want at the end of a flavor journey, we can also reverse engineer the process by starting with a type of flavor and working our way deeper into it through its development. 

For example, let’s say you want your product to include chocolate. The types of flavor profiles you might look for within this realm could include “Dark,” “Milk,” “Nutty,” “Malty,” “Toasted,” “Fudgey,” and “Creamy.” These flavors are rich and warm, as opposed to what you would see if you started with a flavor like orange, which might include brighter descriptors like “Juicy,” “Zesty,” “Sour,” “Sweet,” “Navel,” and “Valencia.”

Each flavor has its own essence, its own tone. In order to develop a product that suits your needs, you’re going to have to look inward towards the direction of your product and ask yourself what your customers are expecting you to bring. Our experienced Flavorists and Application Scientists are here to help you narrow down your flavor search and develop flavors that can be customized to your vision.

We at Flavor insights are here to help you build a product from the ground up. We have the ability to develop flavors in almost any form while incorporating coveted labeling, including certified organic amongst others. Contact us today for more information.

Flavor Insights believes this information to be correct. No warranty, guarantee, or representation is given or made in respect to the information provided. Flavor Insights is not in a position to validate the actual production or labeling of products. Flavor Insights recommends that all finished product labeling be reviewed by legal counsel, and finished product and label claim testing be confirmed to ensure product label accuracy.