Explaining Specialty Coffee Scoring

The SCA scoring protocol was created in 1982 to differentiate specialty from commercial (conventional) coffee. The assessment is 0-100 points and specialty coffees are above 80 points.

The cupping session: it’s recommended that we prepare 6-9 cups of the same “sample-lot” to evaluate the coffees properly. The session takes approximately 45 minutes from when the water begins to be poured, until the protocol is completed. During this period of time, the taster must evaluate how the characteristics of the coffee evolve in three temperatures: hot, warm and room temperature.

For the preparation, the coffee is weighted, grinded, purged, and a cup of hot water and a napkin is placed near all coffees. The tasters are provided with a container to spit in and the scoring form.

The cupping session evaluates::

  • Aroma: score on a scale of 0.25 with a maximum of 10 points. It takes into account intensity and descriptors.
  • Taste: scale score of 0.25 with a maximum of 10 points. Take descriptors into account.
  • Aftertaste: score on a scale of 0.25 with a maximum of 10 points. It takes into account intensity and quality.
  • Acidity: score on a scale of 0.25 with a maximum of 10 points. It takes into account intensity and type.
  • Body: score on a scale of 0.25 with a maximum of 10 points. Take intensity into account.
  • Balance: score on a scale of 0.25 with a maximum of 10 points.
  • Cleaning: score on a 2-point scale with a maximum of 10 points.
  • Sweetness: score on a 2-point scale with a maximum of 10 points.
  • Uniformity: score on a 2-point scale with a maximum of 10 points.
  • General: score on a scale of 0.25 with a maximum of 10 points.

 

There are also the so-called coffee defects, which are also evaluated. They can come in the form of fermentation, phenol, fungus, chemical stains, or other types of stains that can decrease quality and cleanliness of the drink.

Defect intensities:

  • Minus 2 points for a defect that lowers quality and cleanliness but allows you to assess the attributes of the coffee

  • Minus 4 points to a strong defect – one that seriously damages the quality and cleanliness of the cup and does not allow us to assess other characteristics of the coffee.

The intensity of the defect found is multiplied by the cups that contain it and the result is subtracted from the final score.

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