The Basics of Coffee Grading
Coffee grading is the process of evaluating coffee beans based on various characteristics such as size, shape, color, density, moisture content, defects, and flavor profiles. This evaluation allows coffee producers, roasters, and enthusiasts to differentiate between beans of different qualities and determine their value.
The most common grading system for coffee beans is the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) system. This system grades beans on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being the highest quality. Beans that score 80 or above are considered specialty coffee beans. Specialty coffee beans offer an enhanced flavor and aroma, and are especially sought after by coffee connoisseurs. At DAYES Coffee, we only use specialty grade 100% Arabica beans. Premium Grade quality beans are inspected for mold, reducing the risk of toxins being introduced to your coffee.
The grading process begins with the inspection of the beans. The beans are sorted by hand or machine to remove any defective beans, which can include beans that are broken, discolored, or have insect damage.
Once the defective beans have been removed, the beans will go through screen size sorting. Coffee beans are sieved through screens with different mesh sizes, categorizing them based on their size, measured in 64ths of an inch, for instance 20/64 inch or 18/64 inch. The larger the bean, the higher the grade it receives. This method helps to ensure uniformity and consistent roasting.
After the beans have been sorted by size, they are inspected for color. Beans that are uniform in color receive a higher grade than beans that are discolored and have defects.
The final step in the grading process is cupping. Cupping is the professional method of evaluating coffee through aroma, taste, and overall quality. Coffee is brewed and tasted to determine its flavor profile. SCA has established a standardized protocol for cupping, ensuring consistency and objectivity in grading.
The process of grading coffee is an art form that brings life to the coffee industry. Through it, coffee professionals are able to identify exceptional beans, maintain quality standards, and create memorable coffee experiences for customers. By appreciating the intricacies of coffee grading, we gain a deeper understanding of the complexities behind every cup we savor.