How we evaluate coffee

  • When a new coffee arrives at our warehouse, we perform some extensive testing before making it available on our website. Every test result makes its way onto the product pages to provide transparent and accurate information for each coffee.

    Firstly, a physical analysis of the green coffee is performed. During this quality check, we confirm screen size, look for defects in the green coffee, measure the density and check the moisture content of the coffee. 

    After the green coffee is tested, we sample roast each arrival on our Ikawa sample roasting machine. Each batch is extremely consistent so we can confidently cup knowing that the only variable we are tasting is the coffee itself. 

    The samples are then tasted during a blind cupping. Jared Hales, our primary taster, has been a licensed Q Arabica Grader since 2015 and strictly follows SCA standards, protocols and best practices when cupping. Each coffee is evaluated using the SCA cupping form. Ten attributes of the coffee are graded from 1 to 10 points with quarter point increments; fragrance/aroma, flavor, aftertaste, acidity, body, balance, uniformity, clean cup, sweetness, and an overall impression score. 

    SCA Quality Scale

    From these ten attributes a final score is derived. 

    • 90-100 - Outstanding - Specialty
    • 85-99.99 - Excellent - Specialty
    • 80-84.99 - Very Good - Specialty
    • < 80.0 - Below Specialty Quality - Not Specialty

    Coffees scoring 90 points or more are extremely rare and often win national awards before selling for high prices at auctions. The highest score that Jared has personally assigned to a coffee since 2015 was 92.0 points.

    Most of the coffees that we work with score between 84.0 and 88.0 points, with a few exceptional outliers. We do not add any “correction” or “pad” our scores with extra points. Our cupping is strictly calibrated with our exporting and producing partners, as well as the Coffee Quality Institute.

    Get in touch with us if you would like to learn more about cupping and scoring coffees! You can also check out our coffee classes and more resources on our learning portal.

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