Consumer and sensory research - video transcript

In a case study video Katrina Gething, a research scientist, discusses the consumer and sensory research being undertaken in the coffee industry.

[Katrina Gething, research scientist]

My name is Katrina Gething. I'm a research scientist here at DEEDI* and I work in the Food Zone. So what I do is, I test consumer acceptance of products and also work with different sensory profiles of products.

There are many methods that we can use to determine what consumers want and what they desire as well. We can use focus groups, we can do interviews, we have quite a few innovative methods of interviews. We use auctions. Recently we used auctions to understand how people de-value different marks or defects in bananas, and we can also use survey research.

Today we're testing coffee, so, different bean types. Today we're looking at Mexican beans and also beans from Guatemala. So today's just the initial testing of coffee, so we're trying to develop a pool of words to describe the different aromas and tastes and flavours of the coffees. And also things like how robust they are and how acidic they are.

Australia isn't really known for their coffee. There are other established geographical areas for growing coffee. So what our client wanted was to understand the different flavour profiles, the taste and flavour and aroma profiles of Australian coffee. And how that's differentiated enough to be able to give them a look-see on the world stage, so how does it compete on the world stage with other coffees in the market.

So we want to understand a pool of descriptive words that obviously describe the aromas and the tastes of the coffee. So some of the typical aromas that you'll find are 'chocolaty' notes or 'caramely' notes, often there's a 'burnt cereal' note to coffee. So we want to train our panelists to be able to detect those in the first place. And then we get them to write down everything that they think they can detect in those particular samples. What we do then is we then take them into the sensory booths and they analyze, or they assess all the different coffees that we're going to use in the study on those particular attributes, so again, your chocolate notes, your caramel notes; all those ones that I was talking about.

So that's phase 1. Phase 2; we get a whole slew of consumers to come in, probably about 250 consumers, and they will assess those very same coffees on very basic types of attributes, so overall look of the bean, overall look of the ground coffee, overall taste, and then some basic ones like sweetness, bitterness, that type of thing. We put the information together and then we can analyse them and tell the industry that there's a group of consumers over here that like those chocolaty, cerealy notes. And there's another group of consumers over here that like something completely different. And when we do that as well, we can tell the company that their particular beans have these attributes, and that those attributes are the ones that this particular segment likes or that segments likes, or no segment likes - (laughs) which is equally important.

*Research support

Please note that this video was provided by the former Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI). Contact the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for more information about food innovation and support.

Watch our consumer and sensory research video.


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