Somewhere in the world right now there is a coffee company roasting low-grade coffee beans that they bought for pennies by the pound with little concern or effort. Weeks from now these beans will show up in grocery stores and gas stations in bags labeled "gourmet coffee" and “best coffee in the world”.
According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America protocol, unroasted, green coffee beans are graded according to size, flavor and defect. The more variation you measure in these categories, the more obvious it becomes that the sample batch will yield a lower-quality cup of coffee in the end. In other words, the more uniform a sample batch of beans, the higher the grade.
The SCAA uses the following terms to communicate the green coffee grades:
This classification is reserved for the highest quality coffees with no serious defects, little variation in bean size and development, and at least one distinctive attribute in flavor, body, aroma, or acidity that is consistent throughout the batch. This truly is the best coffee.
Just below Specialty, Premium Grade coffees can contain a few minor defects, but otherwise follow similar standards to that of the Specialty Grade.
Exchange coffee is where things go south very quickly. This grade permits several defected beans, a wide range of bean size, and does not require a distinctive attribute if there are no major faults in the final cup.
Below and Off Grade coffees are those that contain enough defected beans to throw off the final cup entirely.
While a good cup of coffee can still be procured from Premium Grade coffee beans, the true gems lie within the Specialty Grade category. Nowhere else will you be able to taste and smell coffees that will blow your mind.
Coffee has been flavored since its humble beginning. Spices, citrus and chocolate have been flavorful additions favored by history. But what about raspberry, hazelnut, and cinnamon flavored oils on the beans?
Though it did not originate in the 1970s, the practice of flavoring coffee beans with artificial flavor oils was made commonplace at this time as the price of coffee soared high, leaving only low-grade beans left for the average bidder. To compensate for poor cup quality, coffee roasters began adding flavor oils to the exterior of the beans.
This is the unfortunate reality: an overwhelming majority of flavored coffees on the shelves of grocery stores are very low quality. The resulting cup is bitter and metallic with a hint of an artificial, unbalanced flavor.
These are not the coffees we are interested in selling.
We are not in the business of marketing our Exchange Grade coffee as "Gourmet." We are not excited about masking defected coffee with artificial oils.
We are head over heels for high-end, flavorful coffee that has been well cared for in every step of the process.
At Alice, we are committed to only featuring 90+ Point Coffees. If they aren't graded specialty at origin and score a 90 or above when roasted, we aren't interested in them.
We believe in connecting consumers with the best coffees in the world; not because weâ€™re elitists, but because we want to push the global coffee industry toward better, more sustainable coffee beans by rewarding growers and roasters who work hard to provide excellence.
Want to take part in this initiative by drinking incredible coffee? Take our quick quiz (coming soon) to find your personal coffee profile so we can match you with the perfect coffees to satisfy your taste preferences. You'll be able to browse through some of the best coffees in the world and have them roasted and sent right to your door.
It's never been a better time to be a coffee drinker.