Grading Coffee

Separating Green Coffee Beans by Quality

Grading green coffee involves using specific criteria to separate the coffee beans into various quality designations. This process varies in different countries and coffee-growing regions. Some regions grade their coffee based strictly upon the green coffee bean size, while others use various other criteria. Some ways that green coffees are graded are:

  • Varietal (eg. Arabica vs. Robusta, and sub-varietals such as Bourbon)
  • Physical size (eg. “AA” or “17/18” or “Supremo”)
  • Standard vs. Peaberry
  • Processing method (Washed, Semi-Washed, Natural)
  • Defects
  • Cupping Notes
  • Altitude (High Grown, Strictly High Grown)
  • Density
  • Region

Even controlling for these factors, coffees can have distinct cupping characteristics that change from year to year and require a coffee review.

Consumers looking for ways to narrow their choices should typically choose based on Origin/Region and cupping notes.

Coffee roasting companies may find information about the unroasted green coffee important – such as the physical size, density, processing method and defects – as these will affect the roasting process itself.

Coffee and Espresso Brewing Tips

If you want to savor the flavors and aromas of the finest gourmet coffee beans in all the world then make sure to see our detailed section on optimal Coffee Brewing. You can also read detailed coffee flavor profiles of Gourmet Coffees and instructions on preparing some absolutely amazing Espresso Drink Recipes.

For detailed definitions of coffee terminology see the Coffee Terms.  Also check out the World’s Best History of Coffee.

To read a detailed description of this process see Coffee Grading. Also see the section on Coffee Defects for a discussion of the criteria that are used to determine the quality of coffee beans.

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