Coffee Grading & Classifications. Grade кофе


Coffee Terms - Bean Classification and Grading

AA

AA is a coffee grading term that refers to a specific, larger than normal, bean size. Kenya AA coffee beans, for example, pass through Grade 18 (18/64" diameter) sieve perforations, but are too large to pass through Grade 16 (16/64" diameter) sieve perforations. AA+ refers to coffee beans AA or larger. The term AA is used as a coffee quality "grade" due to the general correlation (with many exceptions) between coffee bean size and coffee flavor.  

Altura

Altura means height in Spanish and is used to describe high grown, or mountain grown, coffee.  

Excelso

Excelso is used mostly as a coffee grading term, especially in Colombia. Excelso coffee beans are large, but slightly smaller than Supremo coffee beans. Excelso coffee beans pass through Grade 16 (16/64" diameter) sieve perforations, but are too large to pass through Grade 14 (14/64" diameter) sieve perforations. The term "Excelso" is used as a coffee quality "grade" due to the general correlation (with many exceptions) between coffee bean size and coffee flavor. Colombia Supremo coffee beans are slightly larger than excelso beans and will pass through Grade 18 (18/64" diameter) sieve perforations, but are too large to pass through Grade 16 perforations. Supremo and Excelso coffee beans may come from the same tree, but are sorted by size.  

Grade

Grade is generally used to indicate coffee bean size, which is associated with coffee quality. While there are many exceptions, coffee beans grown at higher elevations tend to be denser, larger, and have better flavor. The process of determining coffee bean size, or grading, is done by passing unroasted beans through perforated containers, or sieves. For example, Grade 18 beans, also called AA, will pass through a sieve with 18/64" diameter holes, but are retained by the next smaller sieve with 16/64" diameter holes. Traditionally, even grades were used for Arabicas (20, 18, 16, etc), and odd numbers were used for Robustas (17, 15, 13, etc). The method of grading coffee (classifying coffee quality) varies by country, and may include bean size, bean density, number of defects, growing altitude, taste, etc.  

Hard Bean

Synonymous with "high grown (HG)", "hard bean (HB)" refers to coffee grown at altitudes about 4,000 - 4,500 feet above sea level. Beans grown at high altitudes mature more slowly and grow to be harder and denser than beans grown at lower elevations. The inherent consistency and taste attributes of high grown beans makes them more desirable, and generally more expensive, than coffees grown at lower elevations.   

Strictly Hard Bean

Synonymous with "strictly high grown (SHG)", "strictly hard bean (SHB)" usually refers to coffee grown at altitudes higher than about 4,500 feet above sea level. Beans grown at high altitudes mature more slowly and grow to be harder and denser than beans grown at lower elevations. The inherent consistency and taste attributes of high grown beans makes them more desirable, and generally more expensive, than coffees grown at lower elevations.   

Strictly Soft Bean

Strictly Soft (SS) beans are grown at relatively low altitudes (under 4,000 feet). Beans grown at lower altitudes mature quickly and produce a lighter, less dense bean. Strictly Soft Arabica beans have a more rounded flavor compared to the generally more flavorful and dense Arabica beans grown at higher elevations.  

Supremo

Used mostly as a coffee grading term in Colombia. Supremo coffee beans are slightly larger than Excelso beans and will pass through Grade 18 (18/64" diameter) sieve perforations, but are too large to pass through Grade 16 perforations. Supremo and Excelso coffee beans may come from the same tree, but are sorted by size. Excelso coffee beans are also large, but slightly smaller than Supremo coffee beans. Excelso coffee beans will pass through Grade 16 (16/64" diameter) sieve perforations, but are too large to pass through Grade 14 (14/64" diameter) sieve perforations. The term "Supremo" is used as a coffee quality "grade" due to the general correlation (with many exceptions) between coffee bean size and coffee flavor.   

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Coffee Grading – Grand Rapids Coffee Roasters

Before any coffee is sold, it is classified by the number of defects, screen size, and cup quality. The defect count is aimed at giving a general idea of the quality of the cup. Two green-coffee classification methods are used: the SCAA green coffee classification, and the Brazilian/New York green coffee classification.

SCAA Method of Grading: 300 grams of properly hulled coffee beans are sorted, using screens 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18. The coffee beans remaining in each screen are weighed and the percentage is recorded. Since classifying 300 grams of coffee is very time-consuming, 100 grams of coffee are typically used. When dealing with a high grade coffee, with only a few defects, 300 grams can be used. If the coffee is of a lower quality with many defects, 100 grams will often suffice in a correct classification as either Below Standard Grade, or Off Grade. The coffees then must be roasted and cupped to evaluate cup characteristics.

The SCAA classification standard for green coffee beans is an excellent method for comparing coffee beans. It is superior over some systems in that it better accounts for the relationship between the defective coffee beans and the cup quality.

Specialty Grade Green CoffeeSpecialty green coffee beans have no more than 5 full defects in 300 grams of coffee. No primary defects are allowed. A maximum of 5% above or below screen size indicated is tolerated. Specialty coffee must possess at least one distinctive attribute in the body, flavor, aroma, or acidity; it must be free of faults and taints. No quakers are permitted. Moisture content is between 9-13%.

Premium Coffee GradePremium coffee must have no more than 8 full defects in 300 grams. Primary defects are permitted. A maximum of 5% above or below screen size indicated is tolerated. It must possess at least one distinctive attribute in the body, flavor, aroma, or acidity, must be free of faults, and can contain only three quakers. Moisture content is between 9-13%.

Exchange Grade CoffeeExchange grade coffee must have no more than 9 – 23 full defects in 300 grams. It must be 50% by weight above screen size 15 with no more than 5% of screen size below 14. No cup faults are permitted and a maximum of 5 quakers are allowed. Moisture content is between 9 – 13%.

Grading Coffee Beans Brazil/New YorkIn the Brazilian method, 300 grams of coffee are classified. The number of coffee beans equivalent to one full defect is given below. For example, a set of three shells counts as one full defect. On the other hand, one large rock counts as five full defects. If a coffee bean has more than one defect, the highest defect is counted. For example, a bean that is black and damaged by insects counts as one full defect due to its black attribute. Generally, coffee beans without defects, of the same origin, and that are similar in size, color, and shape, are classified as specialty green coffee beans. The coffee beans classification table is divided into two, since Brazilian legislation allows a maximum of 1% of foreign defects.

Coffee grading and classifications for both methods are defined by categories based on maximum number of defects in a 300g sample of green coffee. For example:Extra fine category: Less than 15 defects.Prime category: 15 – 30 defects.Superior category: 30 – 60 defects.Regular category: 60 – 120 defects.Under no circumstances should the total number of defects exceed 120, in a 300g-sample.

Coffee Bean Classification

Coffee Beans by SizeMany countries classify and compare coffee beans by using a screen size sorting system. The theory behind this classification method is that coffees from the highest altitudes are more dense and larger in size than those from other altitudes. It is also accepted that coffees from higher altitudes have the best flavor profile, so there is a correlation between coffee bean size, density, and quality. However, this correlation has numerous exceptions and size classification should only be used to verify that the coffee lot is uniform in size, which helps insure a uniform roast.

The different coffee-growing regions have their own preferred terminology, but the best indicator of size is to know the screen size. The screen size is usually reported as 17/18, 15/16, 13/14, etc. This means 17/64 of an inch, 18/64 of an inch, etc.

There are 5 grades for green coffee standards determined by bean size:Grade 0 : beans held back by screen No. 18 (7mm holes)Grade I : beans passing through screen No. 18 and held back by screen No. 16 (6.3 mm holes)Grade II : beans passing through screen No. 16 and held back by screen No. 14 (5.5 mm holes)Grade III : beans passing through screen No. 14 and held back by screen No. 12 (4.7 mm holes)Grade IV : beans passing through screen No. 12 and held back by screen No. 10 (4mm holes)

Coffee Grading Terms

AAAA is a coffee grading term that refers to a specific, larger than normal, bean size. Kenya AA coffee beans, for example, pass through Grade 18 (18/64 diameter) sieve perforations, but are too large to pass through Grade 16 (16/64 diameter) sieve perforations. AA+ refers to coffee beans AA or larger. The term AA is used as a coffee quality (grade) due to the general correlation (with many exceptions) between coffee bean size and coffee flavor.

AlturaAltura means (height) in Spanish and is used to describe high grown, or mountain grown, coffee.

ExcelsoExcelso is used mostly as a coffee grading term, especially in Colombia. Excelso coffee beans are large, but slightly smaller than Supremo coffee beans. Excelso coffee beans pass through Grade 16 (16/64 diameter) sieve perforations, but are too large to pass through Grade 14 (14/64 diameter) sieve perforations. The term (Excelso) is used as a coffee quality (grade) due to the general correlation (with many exceptions) between coffee bean size and coffee flavor. Colombia Supremo coffee beans are slightly larger than Excelso beans and will pass through Grade 18 (18/64 diameter) sieve perforations, but are too large to pass through Grade 16 perforations. Supremo and Excelso coffee beans may come from the same tree, but are sorted by size.

Hard BeanSynonymous with high grown (HG),  refers to coffee grown at altitudes about 4,000 – 4,500 feet above sea level. Beans grown at high altitudes mature more slowly and grow to be harder and denser than beans grown at lower elevations. The inherent consistency and taste attributes of high grown beans makes them more desirable, and generally more expensive, than coffees grown at lower elevations.

Strictly Hard BeanSynonymous with strictly high grown (SHG),  usually refers to coffee grown at altitudes higher than about 4,500 feet above sea level. Beans grown at high altitudes mature more slowly and are harder and denser than beans grown at lower elevations. The inherent consistency and taste attributes of high-grown beans make them more desirable, and generally more expensive, than coffees grown at lower elevations.

Strictly Soft BeanStrictly Soft (SS) beans are grown at relatively low altitudes (under 4,000 feet). Beans grown at lower altitudes mature quickly and produce a lighter, less dense bean. Strictly Soft Arabica beans have a more rounded flavor compared to the generally more flavorful and dense Arabica beans grown at higher elevations.

SupremoUsed mostly as a coffee-grading term in Colombia. Supremo coffee beans are slightly larger than Excelso beans and will pass through Grade 18 (18/64 diameter) sieve perforations, but are too large to pass through Grade 16 perforations. Supremo and Excelso coffee beans may come from the same tree, but are sorted by size. Excelso coffee beans are also large, but slightly smaller than Supremo coffee beans. Excelso coffee beans will pass through Grade 16 (16/64 diameter) sieve perforations, but are too large to pass through Grade 14 (14/64 diameter) sieve perforations. The term (Supremo)is used as a coffee quality (grade) due to the general correlation between coffee bean size and coffee flavor.

Copyright Coffee Research Institute

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How Coffee is Sorted by Size

A brief perusal of our current and former coffee offerings will reveal many elaborate names, which may appear to be full of fanciful words. Every term in a selection’s name details something about the coffee, though. Typically, coffees’ names include their originating country, and the farm or mill they came from. Sometimes, additional terms follow. The ones we’re going to look at in this post are terms that relate to a coffee’s size, or grade, such as “supremo” in the Colombia Lucero Supremo that we had and “AA” in the Uganda AA Bugisu that we featured.

Coffee Sizes Are Called Grades

Coffee sizes are referred to as grades, because there’s a general correlation between a bean’s size and its quality. There are numerous factors that affect a coffee’s taste. We’ve previously discussed many of them, such as elevation and varietal. If all other factors are equal, however, a larger coffee bean will generally produce a higher quality brew than a smaller one.

Grading as it’s used to describe size shouldn’t be confused with other grading terminology. “Grading” is a loose term in the coffee industry. For instance, it’s used by the Specialty Coffee Association of America, which “grades” coffees as “specialty grade” and “below specialty grade.” The association considers much more than just size in this classification, though. Additionally, “grades” are used in some countries to describe a coffee’s elevation. Terms like “strictly hard bean,” “hard bean,” and “soft bean” are considered grades, but they don’t detail size.

Grading jargon like supremo and AA, therefore, shouldn’t be seen as the only way to grade coffee, but they provide valuable insight into a coffee’s potential quality. At Driftaway Coffee, we like larger beans because they tend to be higher quality than smaller ones. We’ll take a lot of small beans if they have other desirable characteristics, though.

As roasters, our biggest concern with size is that it’s consistent within a lot. Larger beans roast slower than smaller ones, so it’s difficult to get a consistent roast if there are different sized beans in the same selection. We don’t just want good-sized beans; we want beans that were carefully sorted by size.

Coffee Is Sorted by Size Using Screens

Before being exported from its originating country, processors use screens to sort it by size. The beans are sifted through screens, which are metal sheets with specifically sized, round holes punched into them. (Screens used for peaberries have oblong holes, which more closely match peaberries’ elongated shape.) Screens are numbered 8 through 20, with the number referring to how many 64ths of an inch the holes are. For example, a size 8 screen has holes that are 8/64 inch wide, and a size 20 screen has holes that are 20/64 inch wide.

The size of a selection is determined by passing it through screens until it doesn’t go through the next-smaller size. For instance, if a coffee passes through a size 18 (18/64 inch) screen but not a size 16 (16/64 inch wide), it’s graded as size 18. This measurement is rarely perfect, so some leniency is allowed for larger and smaller beans. In its classification, the SCAA permits a 5-percent variance; other organizations allow similar or smaller variances.

Traditionally, even-numbered screens are used for Arabica selections, and odd-numbered screens are used for Robustas. Therefore, an Arabica lot that was graded at screen size 18 might technically be 17/18, since the next-smallest screen used for Arabicas is usually size 16.

Terms Used for Coffee Sizes Differ Around the World

Because coffee is sorted by size in its originating country, it’s size is usually expressed using local terminology. Sometimes we’ll receive coffee’s that are described as “screen 17/18,” but we also get coffees that are classified using a country’s traditional terms. Unfortunately, this creates a lack of standardization in terminology, even though beans are sorted by size using the same techniques around the world. Here’s a chart that compares the screen sizes with different terms used in various parts of the world:

Screen Size

Inches

Industry Classification

Central and South America

Colombia

Africa and India

20

20/64

Very Large

Elephants*

18

18/64

Large

Superior

Supremo

AA

16

16/64

Large

Segundas

Excelso

AB

14

14/64

Medium

Terceras

C

12

12/64

Small

Caracol

10

10/64

Shells

Caracolli

8

8/64

Shells

Caracolillo

Elephants, a term that’s unique to Africa and India, are beans that are over 20/64 inch. Although these beans are large, they typically are intertwined with the cherry and fragile. If they don’t break up during processing, they will during roasting. Therefore, they are an exception to the rule that larger beans are typically better.

We rarely purchase a coffee that’s below screen size 16. As the concentration of terms at screen size 16 and 18 suggests, these are generally the highest quality coffee beans. Anything smaller than 14 would only be used for a cheap coffee.

Finally, classification terms from Asia (except India) are notably absent from this chart. Although parts of Asia are well known for producing coffee, the industry isn’t developed like it is in South and Central America, or even in Africa. Thus, there are fewer common terms used in Asian coffee-producing countries.

We don’t always include the size of a coffee in its name. The next time you look at our current offerings and see “superior,” “supremo” or “AA,” however, you’ll know what they mean. Why not take a look at our current coffees now and see what else you can learn about them?

driftaway.coffee

1.1.3-World coffee trade-Grading and classification

Green coffee is graded and classified for export with the ultimate aim of producing the best cup quality and thereby securing the highest price. However, there is no universal grading and classification system – each producing country has its own which it may also use to set (minimum) standards for export.

Grading and classification is usually based on some of the following criteria:  

  • Altitude and/or region
  • Botanical variety
  • Preparation (wet or dry process = washed or natural)
  • Bean size (screen size), sometimes also bean shape and colour
  • Number of defects (imperfections)
  • Roast appearance and cup quality (flavour, characteristics, cleanliness…)
  • Density of the beans

Most grading and classification systems include (often very detailed) criteria, e.g. regarding permissible defects, which are not listed here.‘The Origins’ Encyclopedia’ at www.supremo.be is an example of a website which gives information on the export classification of coffees of most origins. Terminology on size and defects as used for classifications is also found at www.coffeeresearch.org.

The diversified classification terminology used in the trade is illustrated with a few examples below. It should be noted that descriptions such as ‘European preparation’ differ from one country to another. The examples refer primarily to the trade in mainstream coffee and do not reflect the often more detailed descriptions used for niche markets.Brazil/Santos NY 2/3Screen 17/18, fine roast, strictly soft, fine cup.

Brazil/Santos NY 3/4Screen 14/16, good roast, strictly soft, good cup (often seen quoted as ‘Swedish preparation’).

Colombia Supremo screen 17/18 High grade type of washed arabica, screen 17 with max. 5% below. Often specified with further details.

Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) Robusta Grade 2 Grade 2; scale is from 0 (best) to 4 based on screen size and defects.

El Salvador SHG EP max. 3/5 defectsStrictly High Grown (above 1,200 m on a scale which also includes High Grown from 900–1,200 m and Central Standard from 500–900 m). EP (European preparation) permits max. 3–5 defects per 1,000 beans according to some exporters, others indicate defects per 300 g.

Ethiopia Jimma 5 Sun-dried (i.e. natural) arabica from the Jimma region. Type 5 refers to a grading scale based on screen, defect count and cup quality.

Guatemala SHB EP Huehuetenango Strictly Hard Bean is from above 1,400 m. Scale includes five altitude levels from below 900 m (Prime washed) to above 1,400 m. European preparation: above screen 15, allows max. 8 defects per 300 g (American preparation: above screen 14, allows 23 defects). India Arabica Plantation A Washed arabica, screen 17. Classification is PB, A, B and C. Other classifications apply to unwashed (naturals) and robusta.

Indonesia Robusta Grade 4 The export grade scale goes from 0 (best) to 6. Grade 4 allows 45–80 defects. Region or other details are sometimes specified as quality, e.g. EK-1 and EK-Special. Processing depends on the region (island.

Kenya AB FAQ even roast clean cup Kenya arabica grade AB, fair average quality. Internal grading system (E, AA, AB, PB, C, TT and T) is based on bean size and density, further detailed by liquor quality into 10 classifications. Top cupping coffees are mostly sold on actual sample basis. Mexico Prime Washed Europrep Prime Washed (prima lavado) from altitude between 600 m and 900 m, on a scale from 400 m to 1,400 m; Europrep is retained by screen 17 and allows max. 15 defects per 300 g.

Papua New Guinea (PNG) Smallholder Y1-grade Y1 is one of the grades on a scale covering bean size, defect count, colour, odour, roast aspects and cup quality; AA, A, AB, B, C, PB, X, E, PSC, Y1, Y2 and T. Viet Nam Robusta Grade 2 max. 5% blacks and broken Grade 2 out of six grades: Special Grade and Grade 1 to 5, based on screen size and defects.

Descriptions are often supplemented with further details on moisture content, acceptable mix of bean types, bean size, etc.

Illustration of a defect count for sun-dried (natural) coffee:

 1 black bean                                     

 2 sour or rancid beans                       

 2 beans in parchment                         

 1 cherry                                             

 1 large husk                                       

 2–3 small husks 

 3 Shells 

 1 large stone/earth clod 

 1 medium-sized stone/earth clod 

 1 small stone/earth clod 

 1 large stick 

 1 medium-sized stick 

 1 small stick 

 5 broken beans 

 5 green or immature beans 

5 insect damaged beans 

www.thecoffeeguide.org


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