ACS T.A.S.T.E. Test™

 cheese taster

About the Exam

The ACS T.A.S.T.E. Test™ (Technical, Aesthetic, Sensory, Tasting Evaluation) – the only exam of its kind – evaluates cheese professionals’ knowledge and skills in the assessment of cheese, from determining cheese condition and quality, to evaluating cheese flavor, body, texture, and appearance. Individuals who pass the exam will earn the title of ACS Certified Cheese Sensory Evaluator™, or ACS CCSE™.

The exam is 3 hours in length and includes the following tasks:

  • Cheese assessment and evaluation. Each candidate will be provided with up to 12 unidentified cheeses. For each cheese, the candidates must assess and evaluate both positive and negative attributes in the context of that cheese’s style, including sight, taste, touch, and smell.
  • Single attribute identification. Each candidate will be provided with 10 different prepared solutions, each providing a unique aroma/taste found in cheese. The candidates must identify these attributes.

Exam Scoring

The scoring system for this exam is based on a method drawn from that used by the American Dairy Science Association’s Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest, wherein each cheese is first evaluated by a team of expert judges using an authorized list of descriptors to set a baseline evaluation against which the exam-takers’ evaluations will be compared.

Benefits of the ACS CCSE™ Credential

The letters ACS CCSE™ designate that a cheese taster has demonstrated their expertise in evaluating cheese. An online directory of individuals with the ACS CCSE™ designation will be available for reference by organizations and individuals seeking employees, giving ACS CCSEs™ and their employers a strong competitive edge. This certification:

  • Provides formal recognition of professional achievement at a national level
  • Demonstrates cheese knowledge and skills to staff, peers, managers, and the public
  • Exemplifies proven knowledge of sensory evaluation of cheese
  • Shows commitment to the highest levels of professionalism and care
  • Opens career options for cheese professionals, as well as opportunities for organizations seeking proven sensory knowledge in professionals and/or judges
  • Elevates self-esteem and pride in one’s work
  • Improves credibility with employers

Definition of a Certified Cheese Sensory Evaluator™

An ACS Certified Cheese Sensory Evaluator™ (CCSE™) is a person who has successfully passed the ACS T.A.S.T.E. Test™, thus demonstrating their ability to evaluate cheese using sensory and organoleptic assessments, and who is dedicated to continuing their professional development.

The ACS CCSE™ certification is a mark of excellence and achievement that reflects a commitment to the best possible care for cheese and service to those who love it.

Certification Committee

The Certification Committee is responsible for the governance of the ACS Certification Program and all policies and standards related to certification. The Certification Committee does not discriminate against any person based on age, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, national origin, medical condition, physical disability, or marital status.

ACS began the process of developing the ACS CCSE™ program in 2015. ACS thanks the committee members for their service to the cheese industry. Their willingness to serve on the committee as this program was developed is a testament to their dedication to their profession. Stakeholders at all levels of the production and distribution chain—including cheesemakers, retailers, distributors, and educators—will benefit from the existence of this exam and its quantifiable, widely understood value.