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