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GREEN COFFEE BEANS CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM – SCAA

History of SCA

SCAA – Specialty Coffee Association of America founded as small group of coffee professionals in 1982. Now is the World largest coffee trade association.

SCAE – Specialty Coffee Association of Europe founded in London on 1998.

Classification system of SCAA

The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) has established its own Green Coffee Classification System. The beans are graded according to the bean size, colour and  percentage of imperfections found in random samples. To identify the quality of processed green coffee beans professionals are taking advantage of precise spectrophotometric tools.

coffee cherries agains sun
Coffee cherries of Arabica

According to SCAA there are 5 grades (qualities) of green coffee beans:

Grade 1: Specialty Grade Coffee Beans: no primary defects, 0-3 full defects, sorted with a maximum of 5% above and 5% below specified screen size or range of screen size, and exhibiting a distinct attribute in one or more of the following areas: taste, acidity, body, or aroma. Also must be free of cup faults and taints. Zero quakers allowed. Moisture content between 9-13%.

Grade 2: Premium Grade Coffee Beans: Same as Grade 1 except maximum of 3 quakers. 0-8 full defects.

Grade 3: Exchange Grade Coffee Beans: 50% above screen 15 and less than 5% below screen 15. Max of 5 quakers. Must be free from faults. 9-23 full defects.

Grade 4: Standard Grade Coffee Beans: 24-86 full defects.

Grade 5: Off Grade Coffee Beans: More than 86 full defects. Source: here (Green Coffee Classification System Poster from the Specialty Coffee Association of America.

There is a correlation between the coffee bean size and the altitude of the plantation. The higher the altitude of the plantation is, the larger, denser and harder the coffee beans tend to be. Generally, harder and larger coffee beans are sweeter and possess more intense flavours.

coffee bean in hand
Coffee bean in hand

Coffee plants that grow on high-altitude plantations are exposed to less oxygen. Therefore, their fruits take more time to mature. That way, they are developing more complex sugars.

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