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What is a Q Grader?

Ciao Parisi Coffee lovers!
Let me introduce myself. I'm Sandy Hon, one of Parisi Coffee's two current "Q Graders," and nothing gets me more excited than sharing coffee knowledge with other coffee lovers! Over the next couple of blog posts, I’m going to take you behind the scenes at Parisi to show you all that we do to ensure the cup of coffee you’re enjoying at home and in our cafes is one of the best you can get anywhere in the world.
There is so much to learn about when it comes to coffee. The more you find out, the more you want to know. At Parisi, I educate our baristas on coffee and creating the best coffee-based drinks. I ensure the quality {“Q”} of our arabica specialty coffee.
So, grab a cup of coffee and sip along with me, as we journey through this wonderful world of specialty coffee!
arte della tazza
First, what is a Q Grader you ask? Well, to the coffee professional, a Q Grader is the coffee industry standard for tasting and rating coffee. Think of a Q Grader as a coffee sommelier. We are trained to tell by smell and taste which country a coffee was grown in, how the coffee beans were processed, and how they were roasted. It’s folks like me, and Parisi’s other Q Graders, Aaron Duckworth and Robin Seitz, that rate coffees and give them those familiar tasting notes you see on a coffee bag. We make sure that the beans we source for Parisi are the best we can find and are roasted in a way that brings out the best flavors of the beans.
Q stands for quality. If you’re familiar with Wine Spectator or Cigar Affecionado ratings, the Q Grader scale will be familiar to you. Specialty coffee is rated at an 80 or above, but the green coffee we use for all Parisi Coffee is always rated higher. At Parisi, we’re obsessed with quality and only buy the very best green coffee to roast. Parisi has four current Q Graders, and one retired Q Grader, of only about 6,000 worldwide. Starbucks has one.
A Q Grader speaks a common language with green coffee buyers and sellers so that even from our roasting facility in Kansas City, I can have a conversation with a farmer or broker in Nicaragua, Indonesia, Burundi, or anywhere else coffee is grown and have confidence that we’re all speaking the same language about coffee.
art from the cup
All of our coffees are excellent but we recommend sampling the nuances between two of our very highly rated coffees, so you can get a taste of what we do everyday.
You could try Parisi’s Mexico Oaxaca next to our Sumatra Kerinci. The Oaxaca is a delicious washed coffee from the Mexican highlands that has distinct tasting notes of peanut and chocolate regardless of the brew method. The Sumatra Kerinci is a honey-processed coffee that tastes like fresh strawberries when prepared on a pour-over. Both of these are easy to fall in love with!
You could also try my new, personal favorite, Parisi’s Nicaragua Natural – Los Pinos Estate. This brew is a cherry bomb!
Next in the series, I’ll start to dig into how to tell the difference between coffee from different regions and with different finishing processes.
Sip, Savor, and Enjoy a good life!