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Since the beginning of our Hill Tree adventure, the focus has been to provide coffee education while offering the highest quality of beans that deliver an exceptional cup of coffee. However, all coffees are not equal. There are actually several grades of coffee and each one reflects the quality and cost of the cup you will be drinking.

Years ago, a group of scientist created the Specialty Coffee Association along with a coffee grading scale. The grading starts by carefully removing unripe beans and sorting green beans with special screens that separates the smaller beans from larger ones. The remaining larger beans are then weighed and the percentage of the total is determined. Next, the coffee is roasted and cupped in order to identify and classify its unique characteristics.

The primary objective of this screening process is to produce beans that are uniform in size which would allow for an even roast and consistent flavor profile.
In regard to Grading, there are essentially 5 Grading classification that are used. With quality being of the upmost importance here at Hill Tree Roastery, we only purchase beans that are identified as a Grade 1 with a Q score between 85-90, which are considered "Exceptional". (You can check this link our to learn more about Q scoring.)

Grade 1: Specialty Grade Coffee Beans.
This is the highest grade of beans, and to be classified as Grade 1 Coffee, the beans need to have no primary defects and 0-3 full defects, with a maximum of 5% above and below the specified screen size.

When cupping, these beans need to have a distinct attribute in one of the ares of taste, acidity, body or aroma, and be free of cup faults. Grade 1 coffee beans have a cupping quality score (Q- Score) between 80-100.

Grade 2: Premium Grade Coffee Beans
The second highest grade are close to a Grade 1 coffee bean, but have a slightly lower Q score below 80 and are allowed a maximum of 0-8 defects.

Grade 3: Exchange Grade Coffee Beans
These beans will have 50% above screen 15 and 5% below it, free from faults, but between 9-23 full defects are permissible.

**Supermarket brands are using these beans.

Grade 4: Standard Grade Coffee Beans
These will have 24 to 86 full defects per 300g. These are getting into dodgy territory.

Grade 5: Off Grade Coffee Beans
You really don’t want these beans, they have more than 86 full defects per 300g.

So, if you are looking for a healthier and cleaner cup of coffee, check out our selection of Grade 1: Specialty Grade Coffee Beans.  We import beans meticulously harvested from small family owned farms, which we then roast with our own custom roast profiles, to provide you with an exceptional cup of coffee. 

-Bryan Shaw / CoFounder

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