At the end of March I had the privilege of traveling to Coffee Solutions in Hopedale, MA to take part in a week-long Q Grader Coffee Course instructed by Beth Anne Caspersen. The course is a series of lectures and 22 rigorous tests, most of which are sensory oriented, and all of which you have to pass in order to be a licensed Q Grader.
On Wed of that week, I sat with 7 other students awaiting the most dreaded, mother of all Q tests, the Sensorial Test. Eight plastic cups sat before me with clear solutions in each. Four of the cups contained a mixture of sweet, salt and sour tastes (all of which are found to some degree in coffee). Four of the cups contained a mixture of two of the three tastes. It was up to me to figure out which solutions had a blend of three and which had a blend of two. The hardest part being that we also had to rate the strength of each taste in the solution from one to three. Pass this test, and the rest of the week looks a little more cheery, though far from over.
For years I’ve been interested in getting my Q Graders Certification, offered by the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI). As their website states:
The Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) is a nonprofit organization working internationally to improve the quality of coffee and the lives of the people who produce it. CQI provides training and technical assistance to coffee producers and other individuals in the supply chain to increase the value, volume and sustainability of high quality coffee production. CQI also works toward building institutional capacity in coffee producing countries by creating systems and infrastructure that encourage a focus on quality that leads to higher farmer incomes.
At the heart of CQI is their Q Grader program, and there are many reasons becoming a Q Grader. Perhaps above anything else, it indicates ones commitment to the industry.
In the end I passed the Sensorial Test and all of the other tests on the first try, a feat accomplished by ~5% of test takers. I am thankful for this opportunity and to Bunn for covering my fees for the week and look forward to being an active member in the Q Grader community