Sang Ho Park — Standardising flavours

All Barista Camp 'coffeetalks' - by speakers such as Scott Rao, Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood and Rina Paguaga - were recorded by our media partner European Coffee Trip. We'll be releasing the videos of these talks over the next months so we keep fuelling discussion and building an inventory of knowledge. Don't hesitate to add your comments here, or on our Youtube channel.

Sang Ho Park is the founder of Spark Coffee Consulting, a brand-new worldwide consulting company, focusing mostly on roasting training, green coffee management and quality control in the roastery. Prior to starting his own consulting company, Sang Ho held various roles in the coffee industry, most recently as the Head of quality and roasting for East-London's Square Mile Coffee Roasters. Sang Ho’s curiosity on taste and flavour has led him to pursue a post-graduate degree on Sensory Science at Nottingham University as a part-time student. He is also the 2013 UK Brewers Cup Champion and 2015 Coffee in Good Spirits Champion, and a World finalist in both competitions.

In his talk Sang Ho explains how the current ways we describe flavours are in fact, a double edged sword. The way we describe them, shows how complex a single cup of coffee can be. However, we can also alienate people at the same time as not everyone will experience the same sensory experience. He argues that we are in desperate need for a standardised reference for taste descriptors, because for example 'red apple' can mean something different depending on whether you're used to eating Pink Ladies or Braeburns. Personal differences such as experience, background, culture, exposure to certain flavours (salt&vinegar crisps); as well as situational differences such as the colour of the walls, the shape of the cups etc all influence how we taste and how we describe what we taste. Sang Ho describes how he's been involved in developing the first standardised flavor kit for coffee flavours - with FlavorActiv. The lucky Campers were amongst the first to learn to identify the defect flavours in coffee using this reference kit. Sang Ho's research shows how people in different cultures have a very different recognition of defects. Due to an extended Q&A session, we also learn tips and tricks for training ourselves to become better cuptasters (don't wear lipstick, don't be upset) and getting to know our own limitations and differences when it comes to accurately describing coffee.

A must-see for anyone who uses cupping as a way to make decisions, give feedback, or describe coffees (that's about everyone, right?!)