The Roasters Guild Executive Council, in collaboration with the SCAA and the Roasters Guild Certificate Committee has been hard at work on a new tool for roasters. The SCAA has had a score sheet for coffee evaluation for some time. If you are a coffee taster, you know the form. Having a standardized form has been a bit of a revolution in the way we communicate about Specialty Coffee.
However, this sheet is focused on coffee quality analysis, and does not flesh out other inputs, primarily: roast. When we roasters get a hold of a coffee (which we have already analyzed) and we shape it to express features that we decide we want to highlight or diminish. How do we go about analyzing this? The same score sheet can present some challenges.
I have reached out to Nolan Dutton, of Ozo Coffee in Boulder, CO. to fill us in on the new scoring system. Nolan has been the main spearhead in getting this put together.
Why did the RG feel a separate analysis tool was needed for roast, vs. coffee quality?
The existing SCAA cupping form is a good tool for evaluating the characteristics of a coffee, ideally for making purchasing decisions or communicating quality up and down the supply chain. The Roasters Guild wanted to create a form that could take a coffee that is already ‘specialty’ (having passed a grading test and scored above an 82 for example) and help discern the differences that show up in that coffee as the effects of different roast batches or profiles.
Highlight some of the unique attributes of this form and the thoughts behind those.
The biggest change on this new Roast Evaluation Form is the sweetness category. We changed it from a yes/no score to a 0-10 numerical score (like acidity, flavor, or body). The idea is that different roast profiles or approaches can make a coffee more or less sweet, and roasters regularly talk about the sweetness of their roast. We wanted to score sweetness since it differs greatly in roasts based on how the roaster controlled the Maillard reactions and caramelization, and is very much a quality controlled by the roaster operator. Other changes we made are that we weighted some of the normal categories more or less depending on how relevant the specific category is affected by roasting (i.e. the scores for Acidity and Body are multiplied by 2 because the roast has a huge effect on how these are perceived.)
Another big change is the use of deductions for roasting defects (tipping, facing, scorching, baking, etc) instead of the green coffee faults of uniformity and clean cup. This allows the cupper to specifically reduce points for the sample based on negative aspects from poor roasting.
Where is the form in the approval process?
We are still working with the stats and standards committee in the SCAA to get this form finalized.
When do you think this form will be available to the masses as an SCAA sanctioned tool?
I hope this will be a sanctioned tool by Expo 2016 at the latest, maybe earlier!
Can people get their hands on it now to check it out, and if so, how?
We will get the form as a work in progress on the RG website and blasted on social media platforms soon for people to use and give us feedback. We are trying to make a really useful tool for our members, and getting the right feedback before we officially release it is very important to us.