The Ultimate Answer About Coffee Bean Grading

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Sipping a delicious cup of coffee early in the morning is the key to a productive day. But there are so many types of coffee beans on the market that it will make you confused about which flavor you are looking for. In that case, the only way for you to understand coffee is to depend on coffee beans grading.

So, how many types of coffee are there on the whole? How do you know what grade your coffee is? Don’t wait any longer. Let’s discover the answer together now.

How To Grade Coffee Beans?

Before sorting, people carry out several stages of preliminary processing of whole coffee beans to achieve the best results.

First, you need to remove the husk of the coffee beans by using sieves of different sizes. That will help you separate the coffee beans into large beans and small beans easily.

After the size-based sorting is done, it’s time to roast the beans and discard the bad beans. At the end of this process, you have received the beans ready for sorting.

Five Types Of Coffee Bean Grading

There are a total of five coffee bean grades, whose quality is ranked from 1st to 5th grade, respectively. 

Grade 1: Specialty Grade

The specialty grade is the utmost grade of the coffee bean. This grade includes the highest quality coffee beans, helping create a cup of coffee with the best taste for the user.

To be classified in this grade, coffee beans must meet several criteria, such as:

  • No primary defects
  • Fewer than three full defects
  • Have a certain screen size and fluctuate by no more than 5%
  • Distinct aroma, taste, acidity
  • No cracks or crumbs

Finding specialty-grade coffee is, undoubtedly, much more difficult than the rest. And of course, their prices are also higher. That is why you can rarely find them in either normal supermarkets or stores. They are often only available in a few typical coffee shops, such as The Queen Bean.

Grade 2: Premium Grade

Premium grade coffee products are common types you can find in café and coffee stores. They are probably only slightly inferior to specialty grade and still guarantee the above selection process in terms of quality. But overall, the requirements for it have been much more relaxed.

A batch of premium-grade beans can contain up to 8 defects and 3 Quackers. Due to the milder requirement, beans from premium also produce only slightly less flavor than the first grade. It’s also a more affordable option for making a great morning cup of coffee.

Grade 3: Exchange Grade

These grade coffee items often appear in supermarkets around you. To select coffee beans in exchange grade, carefully read the guidelines below. Typically, the exchange grade will include:

  • Up to 50% beans above the screen size
  • From 5 to 15% beans underneath the screen size
  • Fold defects range from 9 to 23
  • Up to five Quakers.

Exchange coffee is the most popular coffee available on the market today. If you are into it, stick to this grade. If you want something more charming, don’t hesitate to try specialty and premium-grade beans.

Grade 4: Standard Grade

Standard grade has a fairly average quality, so the requirements for its beans are not high. The standard 300 grams of coffee beans allows the beans to have a full defects number from 24 to 86. That is a pretty comfortable number and not at all demanding for coffee beans.

However, the taste quality of this grade is significantly inferior to the above levels. The aroma won’t be too strong, and even the acidity and flavor can be off.

Grade 5: Off Grade

The lowest level coffee beans will hardly fascinate anyone due to their taste. In 300 grams of this type of coffee beans, there will be 86 full defects or more, causing its taste quality to be severely reduced. That is why you will probably never want to use beans from this class to start your day.


Why Should You Work On Coffee Bean Classification And Grading?

Of course, coffee bean classification will help us achieve good results when working with this type of bean. Thanks to the classification, you can divide them into levels and use them for different purposes. 

Making a morning cup of coffee will also be easier, and you also know how to choose good beans to roast at home. Anytime when you go shopping and come across coffee bean products for sale, you will not be confused about which one to purchase. 

If you’re in a coffee shop, you won’t have difficulty finding a box of premium-grade beans. All the while, you can only buy standard-grade beans in supermarkets.

What Do You Use To Evaluate Coffee Beans?

Shape, aroma, taste, acidity, and size of the beans, etc. are some decisive factors to the qualities of coffee beans, which will directly affect your coffee taste.

So, it is crucial to take a closer look at them before making the final decision.

What Principles Used For Grading Coffee Beans?

People often use the screen grading method to separate coffee beans from different classes. They will then go through checking for defects and Quacker numbers before deciding which grade they belong to.

Some Last Words

Coffee bean grading will make you create the coffee flavors you like, and shopping for coffee beans is no longer a challenge. That’s how you can enjoy cups of coffee without worrying about their taste changing.

Through the above article, we hope that you will no longer have any difficulties classifying and evaluating coffee beans’ grades. What are you waiting for? Roll up your sleeves and start your coffee grading work now.

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Almost 20 years already spent committed to coffee and more than 3 years of experience as a barista at Starbucks. Madelyn Doyle graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutritional Science from the University of California and finished the Coffee Skills Program at the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA).