G1? AA? Supremo? SHG? What Are The Gradings of Coffee Beans and How Are They Rated?
When you see the words G1, AA, SHG after the name of your coffee beans, have you ever wonder what does it mean? They are the grading of your coffee bean. Coffee beans are generally sorted and graded by their size, density and defects. Different countries or organizations have their grading systems though, there are similarities between them. and ASEAN.
Superior, Supremo, A, AA, AA+, AAA
Screen size sorting systems are mainly used by Central America and Mexico, Africa, Oceanic Region and India, with the highest gradings (largest bean size) indicated as 'Superior', 'Supremo' (Colombia), AA (Kenya, Tanzania, and Papua New Guinea), A (India) and AAA in Peru. The principle supporting this method of sorting is that coffee beans tense to be larger in size and denser when they were grown with a higher altitude, as coffee plants on higher altitude grow slower, therefore, have enough time to develop better flavour profiles. There is another rare grade used in Kenya that you may found printed after the coffee bean name, which is the above AA grade (18/64" diameter), the AA+.
Grade 1 is the highest score under the grading systems used in Brazil and New York, based on the number of defects found in 300g coffee beans. Scores will be given to defects like black bean, sour, shells, green, broken, insect damage, mal-formed, dried cherry, floater, rock or stick, skin or husk. After counting the number of defects, a chart will be used for the calculation of ratings for each type of defect. Grading will be given to the slot by comparing the scores between beans from the same origin with similar size, colour, and shape.
G1 (Specialty Grade)
When you see the term specialty coffee, it means the coffee is a specialty grade, like those selling in Palicoffee. The grading system used by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) is very similar to the Brazilian method, defects will be count and scaring will be made before the comparison is made. However, the comparison will be made to a standard instead of other slots of coffee beans. Specialty Grade, the best beans, with no more than 5 full defects in 300g of coffee bean and no primary defect, faults and taints nor quaker is allowed while cupping note and moisture content (9-13%) will also be counted. Similar grading method is used by YCFCU (Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union) which is specifically for Yirgacheffee only also with G1 as the highest standard.
Indicates the best quality under the grading system used by ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), like beans from Philippine, "Extra" class is the highest grading under this system, while size and defects on the general appearance will be scored, keeping quality and presentation in the package will also be counted. The total allowable of defects is less than 7%.
HG, HB, SHG, SHB
These terms are usually used by the Latin American coffee-growing areas, HG (high grown) and HB (hard bean) refers to coffee beans that grow at altitudes about 4,000 - 4,500 feet above sea level. Base on the slow grow theory, they are the high-quality bean, while SHG (strictly high grown) and SHB (strictly hard bean) beans were grown at an even higher altitude with over 4500 feet above sea level growing environment, SHG/SHB are beans with highest-quality.