Olfactory Skills Exam (Le Nez du Cafe)

Time: 4 Tests, 30 Minutes each
Passing Score: 75% (9/12 correct)

The Q Grader course olfactory skills tests uses the Lenoir Le Nez du Cafe (pronounced ‘le nay’) scent vial kit.  This kit is available from the SCAA Store, the U.S. importer Make Scents of Wine or coffee supply retailers. The U.S.A. price is approximately $300 with varying service, shipping and payment options. A list of international distributors is available directly from Lenoir’s website.

All four olfactory exams focus on the cupper’s ability to match scents rather than identify them. It is better to buy two kits for test practice instead of one.

Le Nez du Cafe tests are grouped by category, corresponding to the popular SCAA Art of Aroma 4-poster set:

  • enzymatic
  • sugar browning
  • dry distillation and
  • aromatic taints.

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate an individual’s ability to recognize common aromatic scents.  The kit contains thirty six (36) common aromatic scents found in the fragrance and aroma of coffee. On each test, you must match six (6) among nine (9) blind pairs, then identify three (3) specified vials of scents.

The ability to correct identify each of the scents from memory is helpful but not the goal.  It is better to consider this a memory muscle building exercise.  Building the ability to quickly recall and name a scent is far more important in the long run.  The test is weighted to favor recall rather than recognition of Lenoir’s interpretation of a scent.

Part I or “matching,” is compulsory for each test.  Only six of nine answers will be used, so three spaces will be left blank. Unlike the General Knowledge exam, do not fill in all spaces, as they will count against you when wrong.

In Part II, you must identify all three vial codes listed by coffee term and correctly. You must answer 9 out of 12 questions (matching and identification) to pass.

As with the Sensory Skills exam, you need to maximize your performance by preparing your mind and body. Adequate sleep, food and avoiding sensory contamination are critical. Avoid aromas and perfumes. Do not wear perfume, avoid strong smelling soaps, fragrant foods, smoking and body odor. Smell the bathroom soap at your testing facility before using.

If you sense an aroma problem with from one of a fellow test subject, take your instructor aside and let him or her know immediately. Contamination affect your ability to perform on an Olfactory Skills test and potentially taint the vials used in testing. One small issue may affect en entire class.