A sensory lexicon was developed for describing the characteristics of brewed coffee. A panel consisting of six untrained coffee professionals and four experienced trained coffee tasters generated 377 expressions in a sensory evaluation of 24 coffee samples selected from commercial 52 coffee types. Of these expressions, 127 terms (seven for appearance, 61 for aroma, 23 for taste/flavor, eight for mouthfeel and 28 for overall impression) were selected for the lexicon. Twelve selected assessors who did not have any experiences in coffee tasting or any special knowledge about coffee validated the list. Recognition of each term by consumers and untrained coffee professionals was then investigated, and a 50% recognition criterion was used as the minimum level for the vocabulary of each group. Out of 127 terms, 31 and 60 terms were regarded as suitable for the consumer and untrained coffee professionals, respectively. The data obtained in this study are relevant for description of products in sales, as material for consumer education in workshops on coffee, and as a preliminary source of descriptors for a sensory evaluation in product development in Japan.


Japan is the fourth largest importer of coffee in the world. Although some sensory lexicons of brewed coffee were developed internationally, these coffee lexicons contribute little to a precise description of coffee in Japan because sensory descriptors are affected by culture and language. This research provides a sensory lexicon consisting of 127 terms for describing the characteristics of brewed coffee in Japan and tests the recognition of each term by Japanese consumers. The lexicon developed in this study can be used as a preliminary source of descriptors for a sensory evaluation during product development and for a questionnaire during market research in Japan. In addition, it can be useful in describing sensory characteristics of coffee in a sales situation and in workshops on coffee for consumers.