Coffee Grading Classifications.

We see trucks driving around with “Gourmet Coffee” written on them, we hear commercials andGreen coffee beans see posters of “Premium Roast” being advertised.

What do these classifications mean and how does that affect us?
(Hint: There is no such thing as brewing or roasting in a “premium” or “gourmet” way. That’s just silly)

As coffee became more of a commodity we needed to find ways to classify the number of defects, screen size and cup quality that a particular sample possessed.

Currently classifications are broken down to these four main sections:

  1. Specialty grade coffee – (Must be pretty much perfect.)
    – No more than 5 defects per 300gs of coffee.
    – No primary defects are allowed.
    – Free of faults and taints.
    – No quakers* permitted and a moisture content between 9-13% 
  1. Premium coffee.
    – 8 defects per 300g.
    – Primary defects are permitted.
    – May contain 3 quakers.
  1. Exchange coffee
    – 23 defects per 300g.
    – 5 quakers allowed.
  1. Below standard or off grade coffee
    – 86 defects per 300g. 

Primary defects include;
Black bean, sour or stinkers, cherry, stones. 

Secondary defects include;
Parchment, husk, chipped, insect damage, partial black, partial sour, floater, shell, stones, water damage.

*Quaker is an unripened coffee bean. It often has a wrinkled like surface and they do not evenly change color when roasted. 

Brazil as a different classification scale but it is very similar.

Now go impress your friends next time you drive by one of these claims.


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