SCA Cup Scores Explained

SCA Cup Scores Explained

David Kemble

You have probably spotted that our Single Origin (SO) coffees have a cup score listed in their description. Cup scores are one of the tools coffee buyers use when deciding what lots to purchase.

Coffees are tasted and assessed according to very strict criteria set out in this case by the Speciality Coffee Association. In order to assign a coffee a Cup Score individuals must train and be examined to become what is known as a Q Grader. To become a Q Grader requires a vast amount of knowledge and training. Candidates must pass around 22 exams in order to qualify. The program is intended to produce an army of individuals that all assess and grade to the same consistent standards the world over. There are currently around 4000 Q Graders world wide.

Graders must pass exams every 3 years to ensure that their scoring is consistent with other graders. If they fail, they are no longer allowed to grade coffee.

As a coffee's cup score increase then as you would expect so does the market price. Coffees with a cup score of 84+ can be anything up to 30x the price of commodity coffee.

When a coffee is graded it is assigned a score of up to 100.

Coffees are broken down in the following grades -

65 to 80 = Commodity Coffee
This type of coffee usually ends up as instant coffee or in the type of roast and ground coffee you find in the supermarket.

80+ = Speciality Coffee
Now we get in to the interesting stuff. We only sell Speciality coffee at Black Cat. Even our blended coffee is made up from Speciality grade coffee. Our single origins score 84 and up.

90+ = Presidential Award
These are the most special coffees and are VERY rarely seen. We currently have one 90+ coffee on our offer list and we do not expect it to be there for long!

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