Mastering Le Nez du Cafe

The olfactory skills test given as apart of the Q-grader exam challenges students to properly match (not so much as to accurately identify) the aromatic samples from a collection known as Le Nez du Cafe.

The olfactory skills exam requires a passing score of 75% with 9 out of 12 correct, given across 4 tests, allocating 30 minutes to complete each one.  Tests are given and represented by each of the categories identified on the SCA Art of Aroma poster set, which are designed with quite a bit of science and logic, which I will not be getting into here.  On the other hand, you can find out more here (explains the SCAA Coffee Taster’s Wheel),  here (explains some science behind volatile aromatic compounds), and here (explains the Q-grading specifics to the testing).

You will need to spend roughly $600 to purchase two identical Le Nez du Cafe kits to conduct the tests in the fashion required by the Q-grading process.  Alternatively, you might be able to find one at your local specialty coffee roasting facility and ask to practice with one of their sets.  If you do, tackling all 36 aromatic vials at the same time can be daunting.  With that, I’ve come up with a strategy to help break down each group in manageable chunks, which allow you to organize and recall aromas in smaller sets.

These worksheets should be used as placemat settings, with each aroma vial positioned over the number which correlates to the vial number. It is highly recommended to either paint or cover each vial with black electrical tape to hide the number identification provided. (Don’t forget to mark the number on the bottom).  This will make the identification harder, as memorizing numbers and the color of the vial is much easier than identification of aromatics. But to start, I recommend using it as shown below, placing 3 vials on each test, for each placemat.  This requires 3 sheets to work through one category of aromatics.


Feel Free to Copy.

Le Nez Master Key

For the practice test sheets below, I suggest to continually mix up the order on these sheets, and have fun. 

Aromatic Taints

Sugar Browning

Dry Distillation



The World of Ratios: Coffee to Water

If you haven’t noticed yet, your standard coffee pot at home has a bunch of irrelevant numbers on the side of the glass carafe, claiming they represent “cups” of coffee in which the vessel holds.  With a quick Google search, you will find a wide variety of equations to help you figure out which measuring system they decided to use to sell the brewer to you.   Most often, they are not actually 8 ounces, which is a standard cup in the U.S.A.  Normally it’s actually somewhere between 4-6oz and they claim its a European thing. I don’t know.. I do know that the metric system is amazingly simple, based on the weight and volume of pure distilled water, and can easily be used when formulating a brew ratio. So yet another reason to ditch the standard system of measurement used by us Americans. It just doesn’t make sense. With that said, I’ve attached a PDF of a brewing chart that might help guide you in brewing up some coffee.  I’ve also considered brew strengths and preferences, along with a few comments about how brewing weaker coffee is better for the restaurant’s bottom line, and brewing thicker coffee is better for the roaster’s financials. In the end, a well balanced and brewed cup is probably better for everyone financially, in the long run. But we have a hard time thinking long term, as far as quality goes.  Anyhow, give the chart a look and tell me what you think. Thanks!

Brewing Chart 2019

Apples to Apples

Inspired to dive deeper into the price of coffee, I have broken down only a section of the cost of coffee which I feel is often overlooked and misunderstood.  The document below shows the costs between FOB (free on board) and the arrival of green coffee to the buyer’s roasting facility.  FOB is the price paid to the country of origin entity that has purchased coffee (perhaps still in parchment from a local coffee farmer), and has prepared it for exportation. Preparation for export includes many steps, including the final drying (in some cases), milling, sorting, physical grading, and sensory evaluation of each farmer lot. The “farm gate” price is sometimes available to buyers, and is often hard to acquire, even from cooperatives that are certified as fair trade.  It is easy to obtain a price from a cooperative, but to break it down to individual members and the price they actually took home after paying their fees for processing, dues, and other added expenses, it typically becomes a huge challenge.  Not only that, each farmer has a different set of financial situations to deal with, so they may receive more or less than the next farmer.  Anyhow, I hope this document simply demonstrates that there is no easy answer, but if you are asking “how much does the farmer get”, make sure that when a roaster says “the FOB price is xxx” that this doesn’t really mean much at all, unless you are asking how much the exporter charged the importer or roaster for the final lot in which they evaluated.  Apples to Apples (FOB to Roaster)

Sensory 101

I have a request to host a sensory class involving the SCA Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel, along with a review of the Le Nez Du Cafe

In order to host this class, I would like to purchase a Le Nez Du Cafe kit  ($299 + shipping) for the Roasting Space, along with a poster of the SCA Flavor wheel ($20 + shipping).

In order to ensure funds for these items, which are used for Q-grader training and other sensory skills activities, I would like to raise the funds prior to committing to the class.  If a total of (8) interested people sign up for the class ($48 for a 4 hour sensory training course), I will host!  If we do not fill the course, you will be refunded your total amount.

Interested? Sign up here!

Ready to Roast

Are you looking to try some new locally-roasted coffee?  If you own a cafe or work in an office where you’re ready to try something new to serve and experience, The Roasting Space has a group of individuals ready to take on more roasting!

The Roasting Space offers the highest quality green coffee selections on the market, and will continue to grow their offerings as offices, cafes and individuals give Roasting Space roasters a try.

The way we select coffees are very similar to the concept of “catch of the day”.  The selections are very seasonal, extremely limited, and always fantastic, but don’t expect to be able to re-order the exact same coffee. Don’t worry, we’ll have something similar to match, or further impress, always.

Are you interested in learning how to roast?  New roasters are always welcome to join in, and will be coached through the roasting process and procedures by Jon Ferguson, the co-roasting space manager, to ensure every batch prepared is hitting quality standard expectations for their customers.

Give us a call (402) 817-9991



Help Karynn raise some funds for competition coffee! 384B366B-19A0-4C1E-9A0D-3EA65FB79E39.jpeg

“My name is Karynn Brown and I’m a twenty year old barista living in Lincoln, Nebraska.
I’ve been a barista for two years now and am thrilled to be participating in my first large-scale barista competition. I’ll be competing in the Specialty Coffee Association’s regional competition, CoffeeChamps.

CoffeeChamps is a service-style competition where participants are judged on their skills, technique, and communication of their choice of a specialty coffee.  Competitors serve four judges an espresso and signature beverage in ten minutes while discussing the story, flavor, and attributes of a coffee.

This competition is a precursor to the United States Barista Competition (USBC) and the World Barista Competition (WBC). I’m honored and excited to help represent the still-small specialty coffee world of Nebraska

I’m asking for donations to help discover my perfect coffee, and to craft my competition speech.

Through the process of CoffeeChamps and the support of Lincoln’s new coffee-roasting endevour, The Roasting Space, I’m learning to roast coffee for the first time.

Roasting is a delicate and scientific art, and one I’ve instantly fallen in love with. My goal with these donations is to be able to purchase two or thee of Royal Coffee’s Crown Jewel boxes. These are 22-lb boxes of high-quality green coffee intended for specialty roasts. With these boxes, I plan to formulate and roast an espresso blend that speaks to the science and art of making coffee, the passion I have for this industry, and the challenge of stepping onto a stage.

Each of Royal’s Crown Jewels cost between 140-190$ for the 22lbs. I’m asking for donations for this project because without your help, I won’t be able to afford the coffee I need to properly participate in this competition. Additionally, I’ll use these donations to purchase equipment and wares (scales, tampers, steam pitches, cups) that are necessary to compete with. All of these costs add up quickly  and any help you can give towards my dream is greatly appreciated.

Thank you! Let’s talk coffee!

Handmade Coffee Co.

The Roasting Space at Chez Sodo now offers roasted coffee selections available for retail! Stop by during open hours between 10am-3pm.

Highlighting this week’s selection is Handmade Coffee Co., roasted at the space by Kara.  AB04C206-2D94-4E77-91AA-002281E01651

If you are unable to make it down during business hours, no problem! Contact us for local delivery options or shipping!