How Specialty Coffee is Scored

Specialty coffee has been gaining popularity among coffee lovers all around the world. As people become more interested in the coffee-making process and the quality of their cup of joe, the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) has developed a quality score to help determine the quality of coffee.

So who is the SCA?

The SCA – or the Specialty Coffee Association – is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and improving the specialty coffee industry. It has developed a scoring system to evaluate coffee quality, known as the SCA Coffee Quality Score.

The SCA Coffee Quality Score evaluates coffee based on a variety of criteria, including fragrance, aroma, flavor, aftertaste, acidity, body, balance, uniformity, clean cup, and sweetness. Each criterion is evaluated on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest score.

The first criterion, fragrance, evaluates the aroma of the coffee grounds. A high-quality coffee will have a strong and pleasant fragrance that is unique to the bean’s origin. Aroma evaluates the smell of brewed coffee, which should also be pleasant and unique to the coffee’s origin.

Flavor evaluates the taste of the coffee, which should be rich and complex, with no unpleasant flavors or defects. Aftertaste evaluates the lingering taste of the coffee, which should be pleasant and enjoyable.

Acidity evaluates the brightness and liveliness of the coffee, which should be balanced and not overpowering. Body evaluates the weight and texture of the coffee, which should be smooth and not too heavy or light.

Balance evaluates the overall harmony of the coffee, with no one flavor overpowering another. Uniformity evaluates the consistency of the coffee from cup to cup. Clean cup evaluates the absence of any unpleasant tastes or aromas from the coffee.

Finally, sweetness evaluates the natural sweetness of the coffee, which should be present but not overpowering.

Once the coffee has been evaluated based on these criteria, it is given a score out of 100. A coffee that scores 80 or above is considered to be a specialty coffee.

The SCA Coffee Quality Score is used by coffee roasters, importers, and buyers to determine the quality of coffee they are purchasing. It provides a common language for coffee industry professionals to communicate about coffee quality, and it allows them to ensure that they are receiving high-quality coffee.

In addition to its benefits for the coffee industry, the SCA Coffee Quality Score also benefits coffee consumers. By looking for coffee with a score of 80 or above, consumers can be assured that they are purchasing high-quality specialty coffee that has been evaluated by industry professionals.

However, the SCA Coffee Quality Score has also faced criticism. Some argue that it is too subjective, and that different evaluators may have different preferences for coffee flavor and aroma. Others argue that it places too much emphasis on acidity, and that other aspects of coffee quality should be given more weight.

Despite these criticisms, the SCA Coffee Quality Score remains an important tool for the specialty coffee industry. It provides a standard for evaluating coffee quality, and it allows industry professionals to ensure that they are providing their customers with high-quality specialty coffee.

The tl;dr…

The SCA Coffee Quality Score is a comprehensive and widely-used scoring system for evaluating coffee quality. By evaluating coffee based on a variety of criteria, it provides a standard for the specialty coffee industry and ensures that consumers are receiving high-quality coffee. While it may have its critics, it remains an essential tool for the specialty coffee industry and a valuable resource for coffee lovers around the world.

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