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  • Specific aspects affecting quality and price

     
     
    High moisture content reduces coffee's shelf life. Beans that are at equilibrium and are inactive would have a moisture content of well below 12.5%. Beans with a high moisture content could be very actively respiring, giving up moisture and undergoing changes both physically and intrinsically. Physically, there would be a fading in colour and, depending on the moisture content, the temperature and the humidity of the surrounding area, the fading could intensify, resulting in bleaching and finally mould growth. Intrinsically, the cup quality could fade from a clean, strong and neutral cup to a 'woody', 'aged' and 'musty' cup.

    Colour. Poor visual colour, such as a brownish or whitish appearance in washed robusta, or a green shrivelled appearance in unwashed robusta, could result in a low value. The brown appearance of the beans in washed robusta coffee is a direct indication of incorrect processing techniques. In the cup this could result in a fruity or fermented off-taste. The whitish appearance of a consignment would result in heavy discounts for the coffee, as again it reveals both incorrect processing techniques and improper storage conditions.

    Greenish shrivelled beans in unwashed coffee reflect improper harvesting techniques; the farmer has stripped the coffee plant of berries that were at different stages of ripening. This visual defect detracts from the cleanliness and quality of a good cup of coffee.

    Bean size could, to an extent, influence the price that is paid for a consignment of coffee. Large sized beans roast well and could have a better cup profile, provided the processing has been carried out carefully and correctly. Broken beans, on the other hand, could result not only in a high roasting loss, but also in charring of the beans and a poor cup quality. Many robusta producing origins sell their coffee based on the size of the coffee beans and a permissible tolerance to defects, with a classification of AA or grade/type I and so on, each grade denoting the size of the beans and a measured tolerance of certain imperfections.

    The defect count is the measured presence or absence of defects such as blacks, browns, greens, faded and bleached beans, insect damaged beans, pulper cuts, stinkers, sour beans and extraneous matter such as twigs, sticks or stones.

    The presence of defects could lower the value of coffee; their absence could result in a premium.

    Cupping or cup quality would be the final determining factor for purchase or rejection of a consignment and for determining the price. The presence of defects could result in an unclean cup and thus lower the cup quality and price.
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