Coffee Classification

This time around here at La Tienda del Café, we’ll talk about the classification of coffee around the world.

According to this, the quality of your coffee can be determined. The sensation that accompanies the flavor and aroma giving a unique and unmatchable experience.

Not every country that produces coffee uses the same classification, however, there are characteristics to unify the criteria on the international commerce through the International Coffee Organization (ICO).

How is coffee classified?

According to its botanical species it is either Arabica or Robusta, there are more than 100 different species, but these are the two highest produced around the world. These two species grow depending on the elevation where the farm is located. If the classification is determined by the process after the harvest, then it falls under wet (washed), honey, or natural. The process of selection can be classified as manual, mechanical, or electronic.

Coffee can also be classified by the number of defects on the beans. They can be black, smell, have rocks, dry or floating, chipped, have the peel, ruined by insects, malformation, partially black or whitened.

Also, the classification can be determined by the size of the bean or screen, which are divided into 18, 17, 16, 15, or 14. 18 being the biggest and 14 being the smallest size.

Finally, coffee can be classified by its taste, it may have a natural, honey or washed flavor. It could be basic, where flavors could be smooth, harsh, or others. There are flavors that are complementary (fruity, impure, or moldy). There may be positive aspects of the body, aroma, or acidity; as well as negatives such as fermentation, astringency, or harshness. In this part of the classification the complexity of flavors, defects, and virtues in coffee can be identified.

Based on the above information, coffee can be classified using two methods: Classification of Green Coffee from the Specialty Coffee Association of America SCAA and the Classification of Green Coffee Brazil/New York the second one being the most precise but requiring the most amount of time.

The best coffee

The Arabic coffee is considered by many as the best coffee. This coffee comes from the highest altitudes, has the densest beans, and larger in size, which is in relation with the best flavor in the cup. Here the relationship among size, density, origin, and quality of the coffee is proven.

Now, size isn’t the only determining factor, the uniformity in it of itself guarantees an even roast, which will enhance the appearance and flavor. The coffee beans must be almost equal according to its volume.

Next, we talk about the smallest coffee beans, these are roasted differently from the big beans which can lead to inconsistency in the flavor of a brewed cup since the probability of some coffee beans roasting faster and creating undesired flavors is much higher.

Consequently, beans that are similar in shape will have an even tone while the unequal shapes may indicate a mixture of plants. Different shades of color may indicate problems when drying, showing unequal form as well as different levels of humidity. This will lead to problems storing the coffee and opening the possibility of ruining the batches of coffee.

As a result, coffee beans must be uniform and bright in order to create a good cup of coffee. If the coffee beans are discolored, the quality of the brew will disappear, and it will be reflected in the taste of the cup.

The best cup of coffee

This is classified by the process in:

  1. Special or Excelso grade.
  2. Premium coffee grade.
  3. Coffee for exchange grade.
  4. Under the standard grade.
  5. Coffee outside the grade or deactivated.

Additionally, about the grade of coffee beans, the coffee beans that have no defects, from the same origin, same size, color, and shape are classified as either special or excelso coffee beans.

Finally, from this classification and grade of coffee, the relationship between defect, size, and consequently if it has high or low quality cup of coffee, and its characteristics of body, flavor, aroma, and acidity.