Flavor Testing, The Lab, The Equipment, The Criteria

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Testing, can be a PITA !!! There, I said it. It’s not always, but it can be a real pain. Money, time, and more. I made a post like this on Reddit, and someone asked me why I didn’t have one here, so here, it is.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, isn’t it just GREAT to get FREE flavors LOL ?? Yeah, kinda, but when you factor in the amount of consumables you blow through, plus the time invested, including posting the reviews on numerous web sites, the “gains” seem to diminish rapidly. So, you better love doing it, or you’re going to hate it.

The Rig:

Consistency has been the key for me since 2017 when I really started doing tests. If I had changed my setup, coils, wattage (and more) during tests, or between different series, there would be NO way to directly compare my results. SO, with that said, the heavy burden was to find the ONE setup, that reproduced ALL of the ranges of flavors, consistently. I actually tested a LOT of equipment at the time, and many reproduced SOME of the flavor ranges, but not all. Once I got heavily into the SteamCraves, I knew that ONE of them would be the one. I narrowed it down, to the lowly 3ml SteamCrave RDTA v.1.

SteamCrave had JUST released the Velocity Deck, and I started experimenting with Vertical Coils, and heights to nail the airflow for max flavor, and they proved to be VERY forgiving. I had SUCH good luck running 24 ga. Kanthal coils, that I never stopped, and still run them to this day.

One of the MOST important reasons why I chose the SC RDTA v.1, was that I needed a test bed, that wasn’t soo high end, or esoteric, that it would be completely out of PAR with everything else being made. Yes, it’s old by today’s standards, BUT, it’s flavor reproduction is still SPOT ON, and that is what you need for testing.

Testing numerous different wicks I found that Koh Gen Do cotton seemed to offer up some of the best flavor, with no perceivable break in period. I do peel off the very thin outer skins before wicking.
I typically try and run about 65 watts for ALL of my tests, again, for consistency. I dry burn the coils after every test, and run fresh cotton as well.

The Criteria:

I’ve recieved all kinds of questions on the scoring system I use, why I use it, how it came about, etc. In the beginning, the scoring system was really JUST suppoed to be for MY records, and no one else. I think I accidentally posted them on some of my VERY early Real Flavors SC tests, and the scores were a HIT. Or at least, people seemed to like them. I continued scoring to this day because of that.

Hehe, there you go, that’s as TOUGH as it gets, at least for me. For my tastes, and palate, the ACCURACY is almost everything, because if it isn’t an accurate flavor, what’s the point. Intensity, Complexity, and Off-Notes are in there, but if the flavor is good, and accurate remains the main focus.

In Closing:

If you want to be a tester/reviewer, you SHOULD. The MORE of us there are, the BETTER it is for all of us, as no one tastes everything the same. Reading my, or any other reviewer’s reviews CAN help you, BUT, there is NO BETTER way to decide on a flavor, than to test it yourself. I think ALL too often, the amount of work gets forgotten about, and the focus seems to be more on the FREE flavors, but once you factor in all of the time, work, and supplies, it takes on a new meaning.

If you do decide to jump into the testing/reviewing fray, DO IT. You can start out testing and writing notes JUST for yourself, and after ironing out the kinks, you too, can start to post them. Remember, the easiest way to do it, it start writing (or typing) RIGHT when you are testing, to get ALL of your FRESH thoughts, as they happen. Short hand, scribbling, whatever it takes to get it all down. You can ALWAYS edit it later.

Happy Testing, and thanks for taking the time.



You’ve got it down to a fine science, love your setup! :beers:


NO…thank YOU, for taking, and making the time for a task that I can vouch for, as being tedious. I’ve often wondered how you can seemingly devote so much time to the process, and yet, still get all the rest of life’s daily demands fulfilled.
I’ll say it again, SD, thank you!


Thank you @Grubby.


That is a GREAT question @whthek. You’re very welcome.


You are the man. I know I can rely on your ratings for each flavour. You are always spot on.

Thank you for all the hard work and keep it going. There are people out there that rely on you.

Not all heroes wear capes, and you, sir, are a true hero.


Well damn @MisterSadister I don’t even know what to say. Thank you very much for your generous comments. It means a lot. Thank you.


No, you’re doing fine enough…

But remember, taste is subjective.

Thanks for all you do!


Actually, question… Do they still make those Steamcraves? I think they’ve been around since back when I started I think… Must be pretty decent to last that long


Thanks @JoelSq.


That’s what I keep saying.

As far as the older/smaller/V1/V2’s, I don’t think so.


I do all my testing on the HellBeast by HellVape.
I have 2 of them so it makes it a bit easier to quickly swap between flavours.
But I do not test nearly as much as SD. I mostly just test new recipes.