But do you know where that Quality Score comes from? And what it can tell you about what’s in your cup? Well, the SCA (Speciality Coffee Association) came up with a system to give every coffee a score out of 100. Here’s how it works:
Coffee Quality Scores Broken Down:
65 to 80 = Commodity Coffee
The type used to make supermarket coffee and instant.
80+ = Speciality Coffee
The flavours are more subtle, the cup more balanced. At Roast Lab Coffee Roasters, we only buy coffees 83 points and higher.
90+ = Presidential Award
These prestigious coffees make up less than 1% of the speciality coffee market because they are so rare. And they are very good! Think of the best bottle of wine produced in France that year!
What’s a coffee’s Quality Score based on?
Following a series of ‘cuppings’ from coffee tasting pros, a score is awarded based on several criteria:
Lack of defects
A coffee with any defects is unlikely to score more than 80 points as the penalty for meeting the criteria is so high. Between 1 and 3 points can be dropped if a defect is detected in the cup and multiplied by the number of cups in which it’s present.
There are lots of different types of sweetness in coffee; fruit, honey and sugar are three examples, the more distinct and pleasant, the higher the score.
Acidity can be malic (apple), tartaric (grapes) or citric. To get a high score, the acidity shouldn’t be overwhelming.
We all know coffee is bitter, but the bitterness can often be pleasant. The best coffees have a perfect balance of bitterness and sweetness.
Coffees all have a slightly different viscosity. Think of the difference between the feel of butter, juice and tea in your mouth, if consistent; they all have their own merits.
All of the above happens in your mouth, but when you taste something, there’s usually a lot going on behind your nose also.
A high Quality Score will reflect well-developed flavours, which might include peach, chocolate, cherry, blackcurrant and even Earl Grey tea.
Credit: Sarah, Wayne & James @ RoastLab.