Western and Central Africa
Eastern and Southern Africa
Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Green coffee is graded and classified for export with the
ultimate aim of producing the best cup quality and thereby securing
the highest price. However, there is no universal grading
and classification system - each producing country has its
own which it may also use to set (minimum) standards for
Grading and classification is usually based on some of
the following criteria:
Most grading and classification systems include (often very
detailed) criteria, e.g. regarding permissible defects, which are
not listed here. 'The Origins' Encyclopedia' at
an example of a website which gives information on the export
classification of coffees of most origins. Terminology on size and
defects as used for classifications is also found at www.coffeeresearch.org
The diversified classification terminology used in the trade is
illustrated with a few examples below. It should be noted that
descriptions such as 'European preparation' differ from one country
to another. The examples refer primarily to the trade in mainstream
coffee and do not reflect the often more detailed descriptions used
for niche markets.
Brazil/Santos NY 2/3
Screen 17/18, fine roast, strictly soft,
Brazil/Santos NY 3/4
Screen 14/16, good roast, strictly soft,
good cup (often seen quoted as 'Swedish preparation').
Colombia Supremo screen 17/18
High grade type of washed arabica, screen
17 with max. 5% below. Often specified with further
Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) Robusta Grade
2 Grade 2; scale is from 0 (best) to
4 based on screen size and defects.
El Salvador SHG EP max. 3/5 defects
Strictly High Grown (above 1,200 m on a
scale which also includes High Grown from 900-1,200 m and Central
Standard from 500-900 m). EP (European preparation) permits max.
3-5 defects per 1,000 beans according to some exporters, others
indicate defects per 300 g.Ethiopia Jimma 5 Sun-dried (i.e. natural) arabica
from the Jimma region. Type 5 refers to a grading scale based on
screen, defect count and cup quality.Guatemala SHB EP Huehuetenango Strictly Hard Bean is from above
1,400 m. Scale includes five altitude levels from below 900 m
(Prime washed) to above 1,400 m. European preparation: above screen
15, allows max. 8 defects per 300 g (American preparation: above
screen 14, allows 23 defects).
India Arabica Plantation A
Washed arabica, screen 17. Classification
is PB, A, B and C. Other classifications apply to
unwashed (naturals) and robusta.
Indonesia Robusta Grade 4 The export grade scale goes from 0
(best) to 6. Grade 4 allows 45-80 defects. Region
or other details are sometimes specified as quality (e.g. EK-1
and EK-Special) and processing depends on the region (island).
Kenya AB FAQ even roast clean
cup Kenya arabica grade AB, fair
average quality. Internal grading system (E, AA, AB, PB, C,
TT and T) is based on bean size and density, further detailed by
liquor quality into 10 classifications. Top cupping coffees
are mostly sold on actual sample basis.
Mexico Prime Washed Europrep
Prime Washed (prima lavado) from altitude
between 600 m and 900 m, on a scale from 400 m to 1,400 m;
Europrep is retained by screen 17 and allows max. 15
defects per 300 g.
Papua New Guinea (PNG) Smallholder Y1-grade Y1 is one of the grades on a
scale covering bean size, defect count, colour, odour,
roast aspects and cup quality; AA, A, AB, B, C, PB, X,
E, PSC, Y1, Y2 and T.Viet Nam Robusta Grade 2 max. 5% blacks and broken Grade 2 out of six grades:
Special Grade and Grade 1 to 5, based on screen size and
Descriptions are often supplemented with
further details on moisture content, acceptable mix of bean types,
bean size, etc.
Illustration of a defect count for sun-dried (natural)
2 sour or rancid
2 beans in
1 large stone/earth
1 medium-sized stone/earth
1 small stone/earth
5 green or immature
5 insect damaged
Bean size, screen size and quality criteria generally are discussed
further in 11, Coffee quality.