Congrats to Coffee Sourcing and Education Manager Brandon Bir on earning his Q Grader license from the Coffee Quality Institute! Brandon is now one of only 3,500 coffee professionals worldwide licensed to evaluate Arabica coffees.
“We are all extremely proud of Brandon!” said Crimson Cup Founder and President Greg Ubert. “His coffee evaluation skills are helping us source awesome coffees and establish direct-trade relationships with the farmers who grow them.”
To earn his Q Grader license, Brandon passed a rigorous 6-day program of practice and exams. He demonstrated his proficiency in 22 separate tests on subjects such as green coffee grading, roast color identification, coffee cupping, olfactory skills and sensory triangulation.
“The Q-grader certification helps validate my skills as a cupper here in the states, and more importantly at origin,” Brandon said. “Coffee quality control professionals in growing countries understand the Q program and its importance to the sustainability of our industry. If we are all using the same cupping language and protocol, we can better communicate feedback and therefore see better quality.”
Q Graders are the backbone of the Q Coffee System developed by the Coffee Quality Institute, a charitable trust of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. In the early 2000s, CQI developed The Q Coffee System to improve the quality of coffee worldwide by creating a common language for coffee quality evaluation and an independent certifying body for high quality coffee samples. Anyone grading coffees under CQI’s Q Coffee System must be a Licensed Q Grader.
Q Graders are licensed to grade Arabica coffees. According to SCAA standards, an Arabica coffee qualifies as Specialty Grade if it is free of primary defects or unclean odors and scores 80 or above on the SCAA cupping form. Coffees that score above 90 tend to draw higher demand from coffee roasters – and bring higher prices for growers.
As coffee sourcing and education manager, Brandon logs tens of thousands of miles each year traveling to coffee-growing countries. He has helped Crimson Cup source and develop some of our highest-graded coffees, including Ethiopian Jimma Agaro, Organic Bali Kintamani Natural, Ethiopian Sidamo Kellenso, and Wayfarer Blend, which won the runner-up prize in the 2016 America’s Best Espresso competition at Coffee Fest New York.