• The Q-system of quality control

    The Q Coffee System, developed by the Coffee Quality Institute, is an ongoing initiative to introduce internationally accepted standards for quality, both cup and grade, particularly for the specialty coffee trade. The underlying assumption is that while anyone can state they have quality, companies who have their coffees graded through the Q Coffee System will have the ability to provide their customers a guarantee from a credible and independent third-party. The Q Coffee System is presented as an effective way to source coffees, allowing companies to develop specifications unique to them, and more effectively differentiate themselves against the competition.

    Using technical standards developed by the Specialty Coffee Association of America - (SCAA - www.scaa.org), the Q Coffee System institutes a common language for quality that makes quality less subjective, levelling the playing field for producers. In the Q Coffee System, three Licensed Q Graders, professionally accredited cuppers, evaluate the coffees. The scores are then averaged to produce a Q Certificate that includes a point rating and a cup profile of the coffee. The Q Certificate provides the necessary information to communicate quality to customers and consumers, fostering their interest in the coffee you offer.

    On the basis that sustainability begins with economic viability, the Q Coffee System takes a market-based approach to economic viability, and therefore sustainability, by giving producers a tool to improve their incomes. The Q Coffee System also places roasters in a proactive position regarding responsible sourcing as opposed to a defensive one; thus, the Q is a valuable component of corporate social responsibility programs and an ideal complement to social and environmental certifications. Only with quality, and cooperation, can sustainability truly become a reality.

    The Q-system is presented visually in the topic box that follows - 12.09.07, reproduced courtesy of the Coffee Quality Institute from whom more information can be obtained - see www.coffeeinstitute.org.
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