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What is the SCA Score and Should You Care?

The SCA (Specialty Coffee Association) score is based on a scale of 1-100, this is directly judged by Q graders who will analyse the coffee through cupping. Cupping is the process coffee professionals will use to fully understand the coffee and what is potentially good and/or bad about it.


There are 10 different sections that they will evaluate;


  1. Fragrance/ Aroma

  2. Acidity

  3. Aftertaste

  4. Body

  5. Cleanliness

  6. Uniformity

  7. Balance

  8. Sweetness

  9. Flavour

  10. Overall Taste


Now based on the assessment above if you were to achieve w a score of 80 and above the coffee would then be classified as specialty coffee.

To put that into context only the top 5% of the worlds coffee will fall into the 80+ score, so not a lot at all.

What's the Problem?

Coffee starts with the farmer, this is where it will either develop into a beautiful flavoursome product or due to many issues the farmer may be combating against, perish and lose its potential.


When we go to buy a coffee and if we are to base all our decisions on a score are we not forgetting the livelihood and hard work that the farmers have put in by ignoring a coffee that isn't judged to be specialty.


I don't believe this to be the SCA's fault as they have tremendous practices and procedures when evaluating coffee that is of a perceived high standard. It comes down to the consumer and what are they willing to put their own money to.


We should all start to pay more attention to our own choices when purchasing and maybe don't always spend crazy amounts of money on coffee that is super unique but maybe buy coffee that will help to secure a better life for the farmers.


Would you be willing to lose some fruity floral notes but know that the coffee you buy has been done so transparently and benefit those directly associated? That the people along the chain are not at risk of losing money based on a score, that can in some cases make or break their yearly income?


There are a lot of intricacies to this and there's no correct answer but I put this on to you, to think more independently where your coffee has come from and not to see it as purely a number on a scoresheet, if that is what you do.


Do you check the SCA score?


Would you pick a story over a score?


Have you only just heard about the SCA score?


Let me know your thoughts below.


Jon Townsend

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