Colombian Defect & Quality Classification

 

The Colombian Coffee Federation has a different quality classifications compared with the SCAA/CQI standards. Defective beans are defined and counted differently, broca damaged beans can be substituted for other defects, and various grades are assigned based on screen size. Often milled green coffee of all export standards is referred to as “excelso” in Colombia. This can be confusing as excelso is also a subset of export quality coffee defined as such by screen size. Within the various export grades of milling from Colombia, while the physical parameters may be difficult to achieve, the cupping threshold remains the same as CQI/SCAA standard with coffee scoring above 80 points free of any defective flavours being deemed “specialty”.

 

Colombia Export Grade Parameters

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Screen Size


1. Premium: Screen size 18, with tolerance of 5% at screen 14
2. Supremo: Screen size 17, with tolerance of 5% at screen 14
3. Extra: Screen size 16, with tolerance of 5% at screen 14
4. Excelso: Screen size 14 with tolerance for 1.5% at screen 12.
At least 50% must be screen 15
5. Peaberry: Screen size 12, with tolerance for up to 10% of flat beans


Moisture

The moisture content must be lower than 12%. This is measured using a minimum 400g sample, and technically is to the standard ISO 6673 stovetop method of drying at 105 degrees centigrade and weighing.
 

Colour

Colour must be uniform.
 

Aroma

Coffee must have its characteristic aroma.
 

Cupping test

Coffee must be free from flavour defects e.g. ferment, chemical, mould etc. 

Defects

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The SCAA/CQI standard for specialty grade coffee

Green coffee sample weight - 350g

 
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Threshold

Coffee could be defined as “specialty” if there are 0 full primary defects and no more than 5 full secondary defects in a 350g sample. Once the coffee has been milled to this physical standard it must still pass other tests, including a cupping score above 80 points. 

 

The Colombian Coffee Federation standard for Excelso

Green coffee sample weight – 500g

 
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Threshold

The Colombian Coffee Federation classifies the coffee export grade if there are 12 or fewer full primary defects and 72 or fewer full secondary defects in this 500g sample.

Coffee Bora Beetle (Broca) Consideration

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The most notable difference between the two classifications is how insect damage is defined and counted, and substituted. This is more complex, and as such is described separately to the table of defects above.
 

Slight Broca Damage

Has one perforation, no other visible damage (such as dark areas), and no exit hole.

Severe Broca Damage

Has two or more perforations and has visible damage (such as dark areas).
 

If any primary defected bean has severe broca damage and another primary defect as listed in the table above, the primary defect will always be counted and considered as the defect i.e. the bean will not be counted twice. E.g. If a fungus damaged bean also has severe broca damage with multiple perforations, the bean will be counted as “one full primary defect - fungus damage” and not counted towards the broca damaged total.

 
 
 
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Compensation of insect damaged beans:

10 slight insect damaged beans are the equivalent of 1 full primary defect. 12 or fewer full primary are allowed, so if you have 10 full primary defects 20 slight insect damaged beans can also be added per 500g. This replacement can be done for up to 10 primary defective beans (this would be 100 slight insect damaged compensation). 

2 slight insect damaged beans are the equivalent of 1 full secondary defect. 72 or fewer full primary are allowed, so if you have 62 full secondary defects 20 slight insect damaged beans can also be added per 500g. This replacement can be done for up to 20 secondary defective beans (this would be 40 slight insect damaged compensation). 

With this compensation included, and with some questionable math, the Colombian Coffee Federation classifies the coffee export grade if there are 2 or fewer full primary defects and 40 or fewer full secondary defects and 140 slightly insect damaged beans in a 500g sample.

Conclusion

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Raw Material works with cooperatives and farmers who produce coffees which score a minimum of 80 points, as defined through sensorial analysis and SCAA standards. Specialty coffee purchased from Colombia falls under certain export parameters, meaning the coffee we buy can be defined as ‘excelso grade’.

Beyond this, our standard sorting practices mean we mill at a 0/20 preparation, also known as “EP”. This means there should be 0 primary and up to 20 secondary defects (by the Federation’s definition) per 1kg of green coffee. If a roaster requires more rigorous sorting, this is possible.

 

The Raw Material Team