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Defect Rejects - The Coffee Buying Process

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At Paradise Roasters, we are continuously being mailed samples of coffee. There is a specific protocol when a coffee comes in that we have to take. One of these steps is to assess the sample of green beans and give them a grade. The SCAA has a booklet called “Arabica Green Coffee Defect Handbook,” that is used to guide you through possible defects. This is what the process looks like:

  1. Start with a green sample of 350g of coffee
  2. Pour the bag of green beans out on a piece of black tag board and brush to one side
  3. Little-by-little take small clusters of beans and sift through looking for odd, defective beans (these can include blacks, sours, fungus, insect damage, cherry pods, broken/chipped, immatures, floaters, shells, withered beans, etc.) and set aside
  4. After the whole 350g sample has been sifted through, go back and do it over again
  5. Once the 2nd run through is done, take a look at the “defect” pile, eliminating any beans that cannot be categorized by the “SCAA Arabica Green Coffee Defect Handbook” and then give defect categories for the beans that are left, and tally them up
  6. Within the 350g sample, there cannot be any primary defects, and depending on which secondary defect, it varies from 3-10 beans to call a coffee not specialty grade. The “SCAA Arabica Green Coffee Defect Handbook” is used to reference and to be able to label beans with a specific defects

At Paradise, we sample hundreds of coffees a year, but only select a few - perhaps 25 - for purchase. Filtering out defects is just one of the ways we decide what (not) to purchase. We also look for cup quality - how "good" the coffee is (there is an objective way of measuring this) and how distinctive the flavor is.

Britt Peterson