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Becoming a Q Arabica Grader

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Becoming a licensed Q Arabica Grader is one way to verify your professional skills and participate in the coffee industry’s common framework for sensory evaluation. But what does all that mean? Here, we outline what is covered in the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI)’s Q Arabica Training and Exam Course, offered twice a year at Ally Coffee's Greenville, SC office.

The Q Arabica Training and Exam Course is a six-day course that evaluates coffee sensory analysis ability in eight testing categories totaling eighteen practical exams and one written exam. The first three days are test preparation and review. The second three days are the exams only.

Course Modules:

  1. Introduction to CQI and the Q Coffee System
  2. SCA Arabica Cupping Form and Calibration
  3. Cupping and Triangulation Sessions: Washed Milds, Africa, Natural and Asia
  4. Green Grading and Roasted Grading
  5. Sample Roast ID
  6. Organic Acids
  7. Le Nez du Café
  8. Sensory Skills
  9. General Coffee Knowledge
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The Q Arabica Tests:

  • Cupping Tests
  • Triangulation Tests
  • Olfactory Tests
  • Sensory Skills Tests
  • Matching Pairs Test
  • Green Coffee Test
  • Roasted Coffee Test
  • Sample Roasting Test
  • General Knowledge TestBecomingQ3Le Nez du Cafe

The Q Arabica Training and Exam Course is not a comprehensive learning program for new entrants to coffee but rather an assessment of an experienced coffee professional’s skill and knowledge of green coffee, cupping, and sensory analysis activities. Although it is primarily test prep and exams, many participants agree that they learn a great deal during this week, despite their years in the coffee industry.

There are no prerequisites to enroll in a Q Arabica Grader Course. However, participants should be very experienced at evaluating coffee quality using the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) cupping form according to its protocol established by the SCA. Proper use of the form to score coffees is required in order to pass all tests.

This course intensively covers the cupping skills and grading protocols required of a certified Q Arabica Grader, combined with a comprehensive evaluation of an individual’s ability to consistently cup and grade green Arabica coffee.

Students successfully completing this course will be able to objectively evaluate Arabica coffee based on cup quality and provide feedback on cup nuances, defects, and flavors and will deepen their existing understanding of the Arabica cupping and grading standards and protocols, including the SCA cupping form.BecomingQ4SCA’s cupping form

This course is rigorous and consequently some students find it challenging to pass all nineteen exams on the first try. The final day will allow participants to retake certain tests, as needed or allowed, per CQI rules and available supplies. The purpose of the exams is to evaluate the student’s ability to accurately and consistently cup and grade coffee according to standards set for Arabica coffee by the SCA.

Students who complete the Q Arabica Training and Exam Course, including passing all nineteen exams, will receive a Q Arabica Grader certificate from CQI. This signifies that the individual is a highly trained and calibrated coffee taster who is able to evaluate coffee using SCA cupping standards and protocols for specialty coffee. CQI’s Q Arabica Grader certificate is valid for three years.

See Ally Open's course offerings and fill out the Contact Form with any questions about our learning opportunities. If you’re preparing to travel to Greenville, SC for an upcoming course, here’s a guide to the area!

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