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Thread: Coffee Grading

  1. #1
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    Coffee Grading

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Looked around cs and had a quick google but i cant find anywhere that explains the ranking or different kinds of coffee grades that are used on coffeesnobs,

    for example in beanbay you will find

    AA
    A
    premium
    cup of excellence
    Grade 1

    and alot of unmarked beans.

    Im guessing that theres more then one rating system in the world but can anyone explain what they are and how they compare to each other?

    thx


  2. #2
    Senior Member Coffee2Di4's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Grading

    Hi tOfu

    If you look at this thread, in the Home Roasting section:-

    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1251800032

    This was discussed only last night, with a helpful link thrown in for good measure.

    Cheers
    Di

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    Re: Coffee Grading

    S: so then AA is bean size and grade 1 is also AA but with defect counts and theyre never used together?

    so then the unmarked beans in beanbay are <A? or the grading becomes irrelevant because the crops beans are naturally smaller

    i thought batches of beans were cupped and then graded as well

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    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Grading

    Quote Originally Posted by 6F2B7D6E1B0 link=1251866329/0#0 date=1251866329
    Im guessing that theres more then one rating system in the world but can anyone explain what they are and how they compare to each other?
    When I have half a lifetime spare Ill try to explain it.
    ;-)

    Grading is a guideline, SCAA tried to make a "standard" of defect counts but not much of the worlds cofee mills follow it.

    Each country and even some regions within a country have their own grading schemes and remembering that coffee is often grown and graded by farmers (not snobs) the best you will ever get is "close".

    AA, A, AB, AX, B, C, PCX are all grading sizes... Extra Fancy, Fancy are too and then some countries use grade 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. Terms like premium generally mean they left most of the rocks out.
    ;-)

    Ill have a better go at answering when I have a pile of spare time.


  5. #5
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Grading

    Quote Originally Posted by 1639332E570 link=1251866329/3#3 date=1251873570
    Terms like premium generally mean they left most of the rocks out.
    giggled like a schoolgirl! ;D

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    Re: Coffee Grading

    (: good to know youve picked out the best for us andy !

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    Re: Coffee Grading

    This is a really good question. Theres an underlying issue behind all of this grading stuff and thats simply this: cup quality. Today, we would all expect that cup quality would pay the defining role in grading and setting prices for coffee. Historically, this hasnt been the case. Coffee has been traded for hundreds of years as something to be roasted, ground, brewed and drunk, but the idea of actually tasting it and buying it based on taste is a relatively new one; a few books that I have read put it at about a century old. Apparently coffee was traded largely on the basis of appearance and easily measurable quantities like bean size and density still play a large, if not defining, role in most coffee grading systems.

    Today, the idea of coffee as a specialty product where the market is differentiated based on taste seems to be gaining a foothold. The spread of the idea of specialty coffee has also coincided with the information age and the rise and rise of the internet. Consequently, nowadays basically every roaster seems to put out the message that they are all about "specialty coffee" and cup quality. Whilst these roasters might not be able to differentiate themselves on the message that they put out to the public, they do do it in the cup. As others have pointed out, there are a huge number of different grading systems out there and most of them arent all that useful in terms of giving information about whats in the cup. On top of that, green coffee traders seem to vary in terms of both the amount and quality of the information other than grades that they provide about their offerings and it seems to me that there are now more avenues than ever to buy green coffee in Australia. This means that, as ever, grades are no substitute for actually doing the hard yards of tasting through a lot of different offerings and the roasters that do this best are at an advantage to those that do a less rigorous job in their coffee selection.

    As always, heaps more to write on this topic. As Andy says, this is one for that pile of spare time that we all hope to have one day.

    Cheers,
    Luca


  8. #8
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Grading

    Quote Originally Posted by 223B2D2F4E0 link=1251866329/6#6 date=1251893599
    Apparently coffee was traded largely on the basis of appearance and easily measurable quantities like bean size and density still play a large, if not defining, role in most coffee grading systems.
    Objective?

    Quote Originally Posted by 223B2D2F4E0 link=1251866329/6#6 date=1251893599
    Today, the idea of coffee as a specialty product where the market is differentiated based on taste seems to be gaining a foothold.
    Subjective?


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    Re: Coffee Grading

    Quote Originally Posted by 4F736E757F7E697C747F1B0 link=1251866329/7#7 date=1251895434
    Quote Originally Posted by 223B2D2F4E0 link=1251866329/6#6 date=1251893599
    Apparently coffee was traded largely on the basis of appearance and easily measurable quantities like bean size and density still play a large, if not defining, role in most coffee grading systems.
    Objective?
    Grading based on size and density might be objective, but it isnt especially useful if you just want to drink a nice cup of coffee.

    Quote Originally Posted by 4F736E757F7E697C747F1B0 link=1251866329/7#7 date=1251895434
    Quote Originally Posted by 223B2D2F4E0 link=1251866329/6#6 date=1251893599
    Today, the idea of coffee as a specialty product where the market is differentiated based on taste seems to be gaining a foothold.
    Subjective?
    Grading based on taste might be subjective, but its a lot more useful if you want to drink a nice cup of coffee. *

    In any event, question whether a description of characteristics is subjective if it is one that reflects what most people would think if they drunk that coffee. *ie. if someone says that coffee X is high in acidity and most people would agree, who cares what the philosophical position on the subjectivity or objectivity of that statement is, provided that it is reliable and enables us to select good coffee. *To give another example, if most Australians would agree that rio defect is not pleasant, wouldnt it make sense to take that position, rather than considering that there is actually a market of people that regard it as desirable?

    Cheers,
    Luca

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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Grading

    Quote Originally Posted by 647D6B69080 link=1251866329/8#8 date=1251965047
    Grading based on taste might be subjective, but its a lot more useful if you want to drink a nice cup of coffee.

    In any event, question whether a description of characteristics is subjective if it is one that reflects what most people would think if they drunk that coffee.ie. if someone says that coffee X is high in acidity and most people would agree, who cares what the philosophical position on the subjectivity or objectivity of that statement is, provided that it is reliable and enables us to select good coffee.
    Are we suddenly mind readers now? With-out an objective standard you would know what the majority of people would think of a taste how?

    Quote Originally Posted by 647D6B69080 link=1251866329/8#8 date=1251965047
    To give another example, if most Australians would agree that rio defect is not pleasant, wouldnt it make sense to take that position, rather than considering that there is actually a market of people that regard it as desirable?
    Most people in Australia (or any other country) wouldnt have a clue as to what youre referring too here.

    As subjective tastes vary so much any system that relies purely on subjective determination is worthless to anyone other than the taster themselves. In order for any grading system to have meaning and repeatability there must be objective standards. Using a system of purely subjective standards is good for little else other than philosophical discussions and mental masturbation.


    Java "Mental Floss for all!" phile

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    Re: Coffee Grading

    Quote Originally Posted by 18332433223A3B3E37520 link=1251866329/9#9 date=1252051385
    Using a system of purely subjective standards is good for little else other than philosophical discussions and mental masturbation.


    Java "Mental Floss for all!" phile
    Oh, I like that one Java.... ;D

    Mal.

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    Re: Coffee Grading

    Quote Originally Posted by 1F342334253D3C3930550 link=1251866329/9#9 date=1252051385
    Quote Originally Posted by 647D6B69080 link=1251866329/8#8 date=1251965047
    Grading based on taste might be subjective, but its a lot more useful if you want to drink a nice cup of coffee.

    In any event, question whether a description of characteristics is subjective if it is one that reflects what most people would think if they drunk that coffee.ie. if someone says that coffee X is high in acidity and most people would agree, who cares what the philosophical position on the subjectivity or objectivity of that statement is, provided that it is reliable and enables us to select good coffee.
    Are we suddenly mind readers now? With-out an objective standard you would know what the majority of people would think of a taste how?
    What Im saying is that it either is objective or it might as well be objective. *Measure the pH if you prefer. *But the distinction to make is this: how intense the acidity is is objective; how pleasant that intensity is is subjective.

    Quote Originally Posted by 647D6B69080 link=1251866329/8#8 date=1251965047
    To give another example, if most Australians would agree that rio defect is not pleasant, wouldnt it make sense to take that position, rather than considering that there is actually a market of people that regard it as desirable?
    Most people in Australia (or any other country) wouldnt have a clue as to what youre referring too here.
    Precisely because the coffee has been graded and coffee with rio defect has been rejected!

    As subjective tastes vary so much any system that relies purely on subjective determination is worthless to anyone other than the taster themselves. In order for any grading system to have meaning and repeatability there must be objective standards. Using a system of purely subjective standards is good for little else other than philosophical discussions and mental masturbation.
    Agreed!

    It is also mental masturbation to say that all matters of taste are subjective and therefore we shouldnt grade coffee based on taste attributes.

    Cheers,
    Luca

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    Re: Coffee Grading

    It occurs to me that it might be clearer to continue this discussion with a simple question:

    Presume that Coffee A and Coffee B taste identical, except that coffee B is really bitter, quite musty and has a really strong chemical taste to it.

    Should coffee B be graded lower than coffee A?

    Cheers,
    Luca

  14. #14
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    Re: Coffee Grading

    Quote Originally Posted by 322B3D3F5E0 link=1251866329/12#12 date=1252071352
    Presume that Coffee A and Coffee B taste identical, except that coffee B is really bitter, quite musty and has a really strong chemical taste to it.
    Wanna reword that one Luca? :-? Next thing youll want to tell me that red and blue look the same but not really :D

  15. #15
    mwatt
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    Re: Coffee Grading

    You mean look identical, right?

    I know nothing about grading other than what Ive read in Illy and Viani, but am I right in remembering that some defects are not visible? If I am, I can not comprehend how a visual grading alone is much use. Objective or not, I dont care how pretty the coffee beans are - do they taste good?

  16. #16
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Grading


    Pretty can have something to do with taste.

    Well graded beans are easier to get good roast results, so something that is size graded and has most of the defects removed is more likely to have a consistant flavour profile too.

    ...but yes, the question that you pose "do they taste good?" is the most important.


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    Re: Coffee Grading

    Quote Originally Posted by 18475F494249454C4C4F4F474B442A0 link=1251866329/13#13 date=1252071966
    Wanna reword that one Luca? :-? Next thing youll want to tell me that red and blue look the same but not really :D
    No, no 2mcm, its merely a subjective thing. ;D

    Quote Originally Posted by 465F494B2A0 link=1251866329/11#11 date=1252070901
    It is also mental masturbation to say that all matters of taste are subjective and therefore we shouldnt grade coffee based on taste attributes.
    Quote Originally Posted by 604B5C4B5A4243464F2A0 link=1251866329/9#9 date=1252051385
    Using a system of purely subjective standards is good for little else other than philosophical discussions and mental masturbation.
    No mental masturbation here. Note the use of the term purely in that quote.

    Taste can and is objectified by graders/cuppers. You may have heard of the process, its commonly called (a) calibration (round) by cuppers. The whole point of which is to objectify their tastes as much as possible and bring an objective group standard to the individually subjective area of taste.


    Java "Opening a new package of Mental Floss" phile

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    Re: Coffee Grading

    Hi Java,

    For whatever reason, I have done a horrible job of getting my message across on this thread and I agree with your sentiment above, which you have expressed much more clearly than I managed to. The whole subjective/objective thing was introduced by TG and what I was trying to say was that its not something that we should get hung up on. I think that most of us are in agreement that some form of grading based on taste wouldnt be undesirable. And, yes, I have heard of "calibration" - we have done it in every barista competition that I have judged and I had actually just come from doing the coffeelab course, a large part of which was calibration, when we met at SCAA this year.

    Quote Originally Posted by 065941575C575B5252515159555A340 link=1251866329/13#13 date=1252071966
    Quote Originally Posted by 322B3D3F5E0 link=1251866329/12#12 date=1252071352
    Presume that Coffee A and Coffee B taste identical, except that coffee B is really bitter, quite musty and has a really strong chemical taste to it.
    Wanna reword that one Luca? *:-? Next thing youll want to tell me that red and blue look the same but not really *:D
    Oh, come on, Chris. I know that I can get wordy, but that one was pretty straightforward. One coffee tastes good, another tastes bad. Should we grade one higher than the other on that basis?

    (This was my attempt to move the conversation away from the futility and philosophy of talking about what is objective and what is subjective and to move it towards talking about what coffee tastes like.)

    Cheers,
    Luca

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    Re: Coffee Grading

    Quote Originally Posted by 5B425456370 link=1251866329/12#12 date=1252071352
    Presume that Coffee A and Coffee B taste identical, except that coffee B is really bitter, quite musty and has a really strong chemical taste to it.
    Quote Originally Posted by 015E46505B505C555556565E525D330 link=1251866329/13#13 date=1252071966
    Wanna reword that one Luca? Next thing youll want to tell me that red and blue look the same but not really
    Quote Originally Posted by 475E484A2B0 link=1251866329/17#17 date=1252209307
    Oh, come on, Chris.I know that I can get wordy, but that one was pretty straightforward.One coffee tastes good, another tastes bad. Should we grade one higher than the other on that basis?
    Ahh...Now I get it Luca...What you mean is that they taste identical but they taste different...Sorta like non-identical twins are the same...but not really ::)

    Time to put you on a 100 word limit I reckon...That way you wont get confused *:P

  20. #20
    hazchem
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    Re: Coffee Grading

    Quote Originally Posted by 346B73656E6569606063636B6768060 link=1251866329/18#18 date=1252211442
    Time to put you on a 100 word limit I reckon.
    especially seeing as you cant bill per word here luca! ;)

    just kidding! ;D ;D

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    Re: Coffee Grading

    Quote Originally Posted by 48514745240 link=1251866329/17#17 date=1252209307
    The whole subjective/objective thing was introduced by TG
    Id say "highlighted" rather than "introduced".

    IMO you introduced it, but maybe hadnt noticed.

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    Re: Coffee Grading

    Actually, to say taste is subjective is wrong.

    H2O tastes like water, sure, but H2O is also water and objectively identifiable as such by a tastebud (or group thereof). If youre tasting blueberries on a hararr, its because after tasting (and more to the point, smelling) blueberries on a repeated basis has led you to have an objective correlation between the smell of blueberries in coffee and the smell of blueberries. the taste to you isnt taste to me argument is in fact fairly void - inaccurate descriptors can be a problem, but if my wife and I taste blueberries, they may have a differing olfactory experience for each of us, but when we have the same olfactory experience in coffee, it correlates to the same descriptor. Im not sure why so many people are missing this, when its stated so clearly above. Most great cup-tasters would tell the difference between at least 3 species of blueberries, for that matter.

    Thus, TG introduced it ::)

    Taste splits into subjective (eg. nasty) and objective (eg. foetid) descriptors, and for those tasters I respect (Michelle and Luca are two of them), if they say "nasty" Ill take it as "subjective" and if they say "foetid" Ill take it as objective.

    I have no problem with Q-graded cuppers cupping coffee based on taste - if youre familiar with the program and the examiners, youll know theyve earned the right to give a verdict!

  23. #23
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Grading

    Quote Originally Posted by 012C2D263C213C31480 link=1251866329/21#21 date=1252233777
    Taste splits into subjective (eg. nasty) and objective (eg. foetid) descriptors
    Now Im really confused. Or am I? I thought "foetid" (or fetid) was to do with odour (or odor), not taste.




  24. #24
    mwatt
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    Re: Coffee Grading

    Quote Originally Posted by 537279797E64170 link=1251866329/22#22 date=1252235099
    Quote Originally Posted by 012C2D263C213C31480 link=1251866329/21#21 date=1252233777
    Taste splits into subjective (eg. nasty) and objective (eg. foetid) descriptors
    Now Im really confused. *Or am I? *I thought "foetid" (or fetid) was to do with odour (or odor), not taste.
    And therein lies a whole other kettle of fish. What is taste, and what is aroma? At the most basic level, we could say that the only tastes are salty, sour, sweet and bitter, and therefore one does not taste aforementioned blueberries at all.


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    Re: Coffee Grading

    trust me, foetid is usually an odour, but can be a taste - mushroom-tasting often offers us a perfect example of smells foetid, tastes foetid

    @michelle - didnt you forget umami? Beloya definitely has umami in it ;D

    oh by the way dennis - as a pom, I say "foetid". if you want to use american english, be my guest 8-)

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    Re: Coffee Grading

    According to my Collins English Dictionary, foetid or fetid are both acceptable spellings (neither is American). The meaning is given as " adj. having a stale nauseating smell, as of decay". If one has a cold, it is often impossible to "taste" anything apart from salt, sugar, bitter or sour. Our sense of smell is impaired.

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    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Grading


    Well no shortage of salty, sour, and bitter in this thread.
    >:(

    Try some sweet now.
    ::)

  28. #28
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    Re: Coffee Grading

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    Quote Originally Posted by 57134556230 link=1251866329/0#0 date=1251866329
    Looked around cs and had a quick google but i cant find anywhere that explains the ranking or different kinds of coffee grades that are used on coffeesnobs,

    for example in beanbay you will find

    AA
    A
    premium
    cup of excellence
    Grade 1

    and alot of unmarked beans.

    Im guessing that theres more then one rating system in the world but can anyone explain what they are and how they compare to each other?

    thx
    hey tofu, its something Ive wondered about myself. To be honest though, I dont pay all that much attention to it. CoE is a particular competition/auction process, but to me, all the others are just part of the name of the coffee. Like Finca or SHB or SHG. I guess what I mean is that while i know they mean something im more interested by whats in the cup than what suffixes are on the coffee name.

    Again, speaking only for me, I just have it lumped into the bucket of things that are interesting about coffee but dont mean all that much



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