Three team members at S&D Coffee & Tea are among the newest licensed Q Arabica graders, certified by the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI): Tonya Baptist, Quality Control Supervisor; Bonnie Hall, Sourcing & Quality Manager; and Tara Johnson, Inventory Control Specialist.
Q Arabica graders must pass 22 rigorous tests to become a professionally accredited cupper, passing a combination of tasting, olfactory and other sensory challenges. These individuals are able to successfully recognize, categorize and grade coffee and cup in a group of peers without being a sensory outlier.
“According to the CQI, when a company has a Q Grader on staff, it signifies a commitment to quality and training and an adherence to strict industry standards,” said John Buckner, vice president of marketing for S&D. “We are proud to have three of these established industry experts as part of our team — reinforcing the high level of expertise with which we serve our customers.”
Although the tests have no prerequisites, the CQI highly recommends that applicants have a strong familiarity with the cupping process, cupping form and experience with Arabicas. There are approximately 325 Q Arabica graders in the United States, and the Q grader certificate is valid for three years.