How are Coffee Beans Graded?

The secret to a good cup of coffee is often more than not the coffee beans used. Highly graded coffee beans, if used properly can brew a cup of joe that’ll perk up your day in a jiffy! Grades of coffee are a topic you might have come across when talking about specialty coffee. But what does this mean? And how are raw coffee beans graded?

While there’s no universal coffee-grading system, The SCA Coffee Beans Classification is a standardized method that is quite commonly used to compare coffee beans. This method judges the interrelation between the number of defective coffee beans and the overall cup quality. Coffee beans are appraised based on a number of criteria such as the manner of preparation, the altitude of the growing region, the region where the beans are grown, and the bean shapes and colors.

Also Read: How To Prepare a Homemade Ristretto Coffee Shot

Following this method of classification, 5 grades of coffee beans have been identified, each indicating various levels of imperfections. There are usually three types of defects found in coffee beans which include large stones, unripe beans, and shells. Let’s take a look at these grades of coffee beans.

Coffee Bean Grades

Grade 1: Specialty Coffee Beans

This is the highest grade that can be allotted to coffee beans and is usually given to speciality coffee beans that are said to have no inherent defects. The chances of insect damage in such a batch of beans are next to zero, but should there be a few in the batch, then they shouldn’t be more than three full defective qualities. 

When cupping, these beans should have a distinct attribute in any one of the areas of taste, acidity, body, or aroma, and should be free of cup faults and taints. To be graded as specialty coffee beans, there should be no Quakers; which are unripe or poorly roasted beans. 

Grade 2: Premium Coffee Beans

Grade 2 is assigned to premium coffee beans and these share a lot of similarities with the specialty coffee beans. These are the beans that are most commonly served across cafes worldwide. The only difference between Grade 2 coffee beans and Grade 1 is that these beans can have up to six defective qualities as compared to the three defective qualities for the latter.

Grade 3: Exchange Coffee Beans

Grade 3 or the exchange grade coffee beans are coffee beans that are 50% above the screening level and should not have more than 5 Quakers. Supermarket brands often use these beans and they can have from about 9 to 23 full defects in them.

Grade 4: Standard Coffee Beans

Standard coffee beans are definitely not the best when it comes to quality and taste, and this is evident as they can have anywhere from 24 to 86 full defects per 300g.

Grade 5: Off-Grade Coffee Beans

The worst of the batch, these are the coffee beans that you want to stay away from. They can have more than 86 full defects per batch.

Should the grades of coffee matter? Well, if you’re a supplier or a distributor, then sure. But as an average customer, it doesn’t necessarily need to.  But should you wish to indulge in the rich decadence of the some of highest quality coffee out there, then we’ve got you covered! 

Also Read: The Fascinating History of Coffee

Third Wave Coffee is home to some of the best coffee beans in India. Why not try our El Diablo Blend? This medium-dark roast is a well-bodied and well-structured coffee that’ll light your taste buds with sweet after tones of orange and banana. Head over to our website to order coffee online and make sure to check out our premium range of exquisite high-grade coffee, delivered right at your doorsteps.