A Q-grader is a trained professional who evaluates the quality of coffee beans. They use a standardized set of criteria to assess the coffee’s taste, aroma, and overall characteristics, and assign a score that reflects its quality.

This score can be used by coffee roasters, growers, and traders to determine the value of a particular batch of beans, and to make decisions about how to best roast and brew the coffee. Q-graders are certified by the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI), an organization that sets the standards and training for coffee quality evaluation.

Tim Cole, Canterbury Coffee roaster and Q Grader

Tim Cole is Canterbury Coffee’s Q-Grader. Tim explains: “It’s like a sommelier for wine. We go through a week-long course and a series of 22 tests to evaluate our palate and olfactory senses.”

Tim is one of only 38 certified Q Graders in Canada. He notes that the course has a modest 25 per cent success rate, even though thousands of coffee professionals pursue the accreditation each year. The goal is to have a communication system in place from coffee roasters all the way back to farmers at the origin.

Do you have a term or definition you’d like us to add to the glossary? Let us know using this form.