thumbnail Written by Patrick Dinkins

Being an Arabica Q Grader is a large part of what I do at Cameron’s Coffee. I am proud to say that I am part of a unique group of people. Becoming a Q Grader in 2011 was one the hardest, and most rewarding challenges that I have completed during my coffee career.

The course has changed a little bit since I first took it in 2011.

At that time it was a 5-day course with the testing of different skills and subjects every day. Now it is a 6-day course. The first 3 days are instructional, which is followed by 3 days of testing. The format may have changed, but the skills and subjects have not. There are 20 different sections including green grading and roast degree identification. Some sensory skills that you are tested on involve cupping and scoring coffees according to SCAA protocols. In the end, passing the course means you are a highly-trained and highly-calibrated coffee professional who can evaluate, grade, cup, and score a coffee objectively.

master roaster

In order to remain a licensed Q Grader you have to re-calibrate every 3 years.

I was able to complete my first recertification this past January. The calibration course is a one-day course that consists of 4 separate cuppings. The first cupping is a reference cupping to get everyone on the same page. The next 3 cuppings have six coffees each, a washed mild’s session, a natural’s session, and lastly a session of Asian or African coffees.

In order to pass the calibration course, you must score an 86 or higher on two of the three cuppings, you must display the proper use of SCAA cupping forms and protocols, and you must be able to identify the defective cups in two of the three cuppings. I am happy to say that I passed the course and have received my recertification as an Arabica Q Grader.

Being an Arabica Q Grader has helped me refocus on one of the many things I do here at Cameron’s Coffee. I am lucky to be doing something that I love to do.


We introduced Patrick in our previous Roaster’s Report blog post.