Q Robusta Grader (R Grader) Exam list

In order to become a Q Robusta Grader (R Grader), one must pass all the following R Grader exams. Often, these are similar to Q Arabica (Q Grader) exams but apply different concepts or formulas.  For example, in the case of the sensory skills liquids and matching pairs organic acids.

Q Robusta Grader V3.x

General Coffee Knowledge (1 test).  A true / false exam of 100 questions about Robusta coffee cupping and grading, roasting, brewing, cultivation, harvesting and processing.

Sensory Skills Test (3 tests). Test subjects must identify three (3) intensities of salt, sour, sweet and bitter odorless solutions individually and when combined in mixtures.

  • Part I: Reference.  Participants taste three samples (low, medium, high) of each taste group (salt, sour, sweet, bitter).  Next, rank them by intensity.
  • Part II: Blind Identification. All twelve (12) sample solutions return blind and must be identified by group and intensity.
  • Part III: Mixture Set.  Subjects taste nine (9) mixtures of samples containing a mixture two (2) base solutions. Students must correctly identify type and intensity of base solutions in each mixture.

Cupping Skills Tests (5 tests).  Subjects cup and score five (5) flights of six (6) samples, including but not limited to:

  • Brazil Robusta
  • East African / Ugandan Robusta
  • Indian Robusta
  • Indonesian / Asian Robusta
  • and West African Robusta coffees (subject to location and availability).

Cupping scoresheets are evaluated based on accuracy and consistency of scoring and descriptions.

Olfactory Skills Tests (4 tests in 2 parts). The objective of this test is to evaluate an individual’s ability to recognize common aromatic scents often found in the fragrance and aroma or nose (le nez) of Robusta coffee.

Note that the Robusta version of the Q Grader exam uses scents found in the Le Nez du Vin (wine) set plus the Le Nez du Cafe series. Subjects must first match six (6) among nine (9) blind pairs, then identify three (3) specified vials of scents for each of four (4) groups:

  • Enzymatic: scents originating from cultivation and processing
  • Sugar browning: scents originating from earlier stages of roasting
  • Dry distillation: scents originating from later stages of roasting
  • Aromatic taints: scents resulting from storage, handling and processing errors

Triangulation Skills Tests (5 tests).  Triangulation tests measure the ability to differentiate coffees by flavor unique attributes associated with each region. Test subjects must taste and identify the one (1) different cup in each set of three (3) for six (6) sets in each test.

Organic Acids Matching Pairs (1 test).  Test subjects must identify six (6) of the more common acids found in Robusta coffee: acetic acid, malic acid, phosphoric acid, citric acid, lactic acid and quinic acid.

Eight (8) sets of four (4) cups of brewed coffee are placed on a table.  Participants must identify which two coffees fortified with one of the common acids in each set and which are plain.

Robusta Green Coffee Grading (1 test).  – Participants receive three (3) 350g green robusta coffee sample and must grade each pursuant to Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) green grading protocols, correctly identifying each defect, tabulating the total defect count and identifying the grade of green coffee.

Robusta Roasted Coffee Grading (1 test).  Participants identify the number of roast defects found in one (1) 100g roasted robusta coffee sample and correctly identify that sample as commercial, premium or Fine Robusta.

Roast Sample Identification (1 test).  This test measures knowledge of UCDA robusta cupping protocol roasting instructions. Subjects receive four trays of coffee.  One meets Robusta cupping protocol specifications and the other three are unacceptable.  Unacceptable samples are a) under-roasted, b) baked, c) over-roasted or d) underdeveloped. Participants must identify each sample and explain how he or she reached a conclusion.