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What is a Q-Grader?

Time and again baristas or dedicated coffee drinkers talk about Q-Grading. What is it all about? We shed some light on a supposedly simple topic.

What is a Q-Grader?

Time and again baristas or dedicated coffee drinkers talk about Q-Grading. What is it all about? We shed some light on a supposedly simple topic.

With the Q-Grading programme, the coffee world has defined a standard that determines how the quality of Arabica coffee is assessed. Q-Graders are people who have worked intensively with this procedure and have proven in 22 tests that they can judge a coffee according to this standard.

How does it work?A Q-Grader counts the number of defects in green coffee, roasts the coffee and finally pours it to evaluate the sensory attributes using a standardised form. The outcome is a score that can reach a maximum of 100. Coffee that scores over 80 points is given the “very good” attribute and can be called Specialty Coffee.

You may be wondering whether sensory analysis is not always subjective, and to some extent you are right. Due to certain set, shared standards, the perception of quality among the Q-Graders is very similar and we can assume that the differences are minimal.

Does that mean you prefer coffee with high scores? No. At the end of the day, we all have personal preferences. However, by trying as many different coffees as possible, we develop our own perception of quality.

What is Q-Grading not?The standard says nothing about how coffee was grown. Regardless of whether it is a large or small farm, Kenya or Honduras, the coffees are always tested blindly so that the personal biases of the taster do not play a role.

Do you want to learn more?You can discover more about the process on the Coffee Quality Institute website. Here you can get a good insight into the ViCAFE roaster and the work of our Q- Graders.