Triangle Testing is an integral part of the beverage development and quality assurance process. It helps our beverage experts evaluate how small adjustments to a drink’s ingredients, process, or packaging may impact how consumers experience the overall product.

In the realm of sensory science, Triangle Testing is best understood as “the difference test.” The goal isn’t to establish whether consumers will enjoy a beverage, but rather to see if they will be able to detect changes in its consistency, should it be altered in any way.

Simply put, a standard Triangle Test involves a blind evaluation of three relatively similar samples where assessors are asked to choose the outlier, even if it’s just a guess.

How does Flavorman conduct Triangle Testing?

When Triangle Testing, our testing room and sample sets are always set up as neutrally as possible to minimize potential biases that may impact how an assessor interprets the samples. Assessors are given no guidance about what’s been changed in the randomized sample sets; they are simply tasked with determining which of the three samples they believe is different from the others, and briefly explaining their choice. To ensure consistency, assessors are told to evaluate the samples from left to right, and they are provided room-temperature water to cleanse their palate between tastings.

After the test, our scientists calculate the correct and incorrect results, using this data to determine whether a statistically significant difference exists between the samples. For a triangle test, the hypothesis our scientists are trying to prove is usually that sample 1 will be perceived to match sample 2. Any trends or correct comments reported in the data are also used to help our beverage architects make appropriate adjustments to further refine the perceived consistency of the altered beverage.

Let’s imagine our beverage architects are Triangle Testing a fruit punch. A fresh sample of that fruit punch is placed alongside two similar samples of the same flavored beverage recreated with a sugar-free sweetener. If a statistical majority of our assessors are unable to detect which sample is the sugar-free version and/or they are unable to explain their choice accurately when identifying the correct outlier, then our scientists will be likely to deem the test successful: if our assessors are unable to see, smell, or taste a difference between the samples, then consumers likely won’t be able to detect those changes either.

Why is Triangle Testing so important for your beverage’s success?

Again, the goal Triangle Testing is to ensure that the flavors and aromas of each altered sample set are indiscernible from the original sample set. We are looking for consistency, meaning we don’t want our taste testers to be able to detect the stand-out sample, nor the source of its difference.

The results of these tests can be significant to our clients and their beverage’s success. It could reduce the costs of producing a beverage, allowing clients to substitute ingredients or otherwise alter their “recipe” without compromising the flavor consumers love. It can also help clients find comfort in knowing that their beverage is shelf stable under different conditions, including temperature or packaging changes.

When Triangle Testing is successful, then our team has done their job in helping clients ensure the quality and consistency of their beverage – and providing a better consumer experience. That’s why Triangle Testing offers yet another way for Flavorman to be there for clients, from start through finish.

Written on July 31, 2019.