25% off your next order, when you join our newsletter.

Q Graders

…coffee to make you smile

What is a Q Grader?

A Q grader is a highly trained and qualified specialist licensed in assessing coffee in the same way as a sommelier assesses wine.

The Q stands for quality and the scheme was set up in 1996 by the American Coffee Quality Institute, a not-for-profit organisation “dedicated to improving the quality of coffee and the lives of the people who produce it”.

The Institute works in partnership with the Specialty Coffee Association of America to create tasting standards by which Q Graders utilize to score coffee quality.

The grading system:

Any coffee below 80 points is not considered specialty coffee

  • 80-84.99 – Very good
  • 85-89.99 – Excellent
  • 90-100 – Outstanding

Q graders are qualified in assessing either Arabica or Robusta varieties of coffee. They are two separate courses and exams.

They learn a whole variety of techniques designed to use their sensory skills to differentiate coffee in all its stages, from green un-roasted coffee to roasted beans. It is not a programme for the faint-hearted!

They then sit a six-day exam consisting of 22 tests including the following:

  • Cupping Tests – Examinees cup and score four flights of six coffee samples alongside other coffee professionals.
  • Organic Acids Matching Pairs – Subjects identify four different types of acids that are commonly found in coffee.
  • Sample Roast I.D. Skills – Spot the different types of errors found in roasted coffee samples. Utilize the rules explained in the SCAA cupping protocol roasting directions.
  • Green coffee grading – Grading three un-roasted coffee samples.
  • Olfactory tests – You will recognize 36 common aromatic scents that are commonly in coffee. Several of these are blind samples, and others are labelled amongst a series of groups.
  • Sensory skills – Determine the strength of three different solutions of sweet, salt, and sour on their own, then mixed together.
  • Coffee knowledge – Lastly, the Q Grader test will ask 100 multiple-choice questions about roasting, harvesting, cupping grading, growing, and processing.

There are now training programmes and test centres in Europe for those interested in becoming a Q Grader.

…coffee to make you smile
London. Paris. New York
+44 (0)20 3627 0969 [email protected]
25% OFF Your Next Order
Sign up to receive the latest news from Christopher Montrose Coffee about promotions, limited time offers & free shipping campaigns, and we'll send you a discount coupon to use on your next order.
Registered in England and Wales with Company Number 9671758.
Reg’d Office: 8 Deben Mill Business Centre, Old Maltings Approach, Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP12 1BL.

© 2024 Christopher Montrose Limited. All rights reserved.

Want 25% OFF your next order?

Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you a 25% off coupon to use on your next order (sale items are excluded). It's a low volume newsletter and you can unsubscribe at anytime.