• I would like to learn more about CQI. How do I find out more?

    Thank you for your general interest in learning more about Coffee Quality Institute (CQI).

    Please feel free to browse our website, specifically the About Us section as well as Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages.

    We hope this is helpful general information to help get you started. If you have any specific questions on our program after looking over our programs information, please feel free to contact us.

  • When was CQI founded?

    CQI was founded in 1996.

  • Who founded CQI? Why?

    We were founded by SCAA as a committee to address quality and income issues at origin. Originally the Specialty Coffee Institute, we left SCAA’s protection to become who we are today. Ted Lingle was executive director at SCAA during the early years and then later became CQI’s executive director. CQI was founded with the intention to address the economic impacts affecting small to medium sized coffee farmers. CQI works to address this issue by focusing on quality. At the core of CQI’s efforts is a commitment to training and education, providing coffee producers with the tools they need in order to compete in the world marketplace.

Coffee Corps



  • Will the Coffee Corps volunteer speak the local language?

    While some volunteers are multi-lingual, most speak only English. We expect that the origin group making the request will be able to provide a translator. If they cannot, we may be able to provide someone to assist.

  • How long can the volunteer assignments be?

    Most volunteer assignments are between two and three weeks long. However, if your project requires more or less time, please complete the application anyway. We will try to locate a volunteer who matches your needs.

  • Is the origin group responsible for any costs?

    Coffee Corps will pay all assignment-related expenses for the volunteer. These include round-trip coach airfare, passport, visas, lodging, meals and incidentals, project materials, required immunizations, and supplemental health insurance (including emergency medical evacuation coverage). All costs accounted for in the project budget will be covered by CQI directly.

    An organization at origin MAY be responsible for some assignment-related costs, such as in-country transportation or local lodging, that is not covered as part of the project funding. The host is responsible for transportation during the assignment and may be asked to provide lodging.

  • Can we request volunteers for a project that might require more than one visit?

    Yes, but please explain how many visits you anticipate, as well as the length of time between each visit in your application.

Coffee Corps


  • Why gender at CQI?

    There is ample evidence of the importance of gender awareness to optimize agricultural development program outcomes.  For this reason, most development funding today requires a gender component.  At CQI, we recognize that our organization needs to integrate gender equity more strategically in our development work, and that there is also a need to do so in other coffee industry sustainability initiatives. We must ensure that we have a well-informed, strategic approach to gender that supports our mission to improve the quality of coffee and the lives of the people who produce it.

  • What do you mean by partnership?

    We have learned that there is a desire within the industry to better understand the link between quality and gender equity and to invest in programs that could have a favorable impact on coffee producing communities.  Our plan is to develop a shared approach to gender equity informed by the experiences of private sector businesses and development agencies working in other agricultural sectors, as well as by work already being done in coffee.  This collaborative approach will provide a framework for numerous actors in the coffee chain to invest, partner and otherwise engage to support progress toward shared metrics and outcomes.

  • How can I be involved?

    Anyone can participate in the gender workshops.  We are also looking for partners who can support this initiative financially and provide input and experience to assure we are addressing the right issues and producing practical strategies and tactics.  Anyone can join a focus group in person or via teleconference.

  • Who is involved?

    Our current business and development partners include foundational partners ACDI/VOCA, AMFOTEK, Falcon Coffees and Mars Drinks, and sustaining partners Equal Exchange, Blue Bottle Coffee and Farmer Brothers.  CQI is actively engaging with additional potential partners and will make announcements periodically as these partnerships crystallize.  At this time, we are inviting participants and support for the remaining workshop in Indonesia in May 2015. We expect more organizations to become involved as we begin to implement pilots and programs on the ground, including coffee related organizations such as IWCA and Grounds for Health, standards organizations, private sector businesses, and other development related NGOs such as Root Capital and Progreso Foundation. Between April and June, CQI will host a series of focus groups to engage a broader range of input from industry and development actors.  Four ‘in-person’ focus groups will be held at the 2015 SCAA, others will be held via-teleconference.  We will continue to seek your involvement as we move forward.

  • How do I find out more?

    Registration for the upcoming workshop in Indonesia is open. Details about the partnership options can be found here.  Additionally, the Partnership for Gender Equity will be sharing project details with the industry at the upcoming 2015 NCA. ICO and SCAA conferences.

  • What are the workshops all about?

    Using a modified version of the Gender Action Learning System (GALS), which has been applied in various agricultural communities with excellent results, the workshops are highly participatory, in-depth, professionally facilitated sessions that explore the context of gender in coffee producing communities and throughout the coffee value chain.  Participants in each workshop include men and women coffee producers from the host country, as well as international industry members.  The workshops delve into key questions about the opportunities and challenges related to gender equity within producer communities, including the linkages between quality and gender, and reveal potential solutions to inform the Roadmap for Industry Engagement.

  • What is GALS?

    The Gender Action Learning System (GALS) for gender-sensitive value chain development was originally piloted in Uganda. GALS consists of a series of simple, pro-poor, visual diagrams used by a team of trained facilitators to help women and men farmers critically reflect together on their livelihoods and identify the changes that need to be pushed forward in different spheres of their life — at the household, community and market levels — in order to increase production and income.

Coffee Corps


  • Do I need a profile to be on the CQI website?

    To browse our site, you do not need to have a profile. If you’d like to enroll in a course, enroll for a retake test, submit a sample to be Q Evaluated, view Q Coffees™ or contact users directly on our site, you need to first create a registration/profile on our database.

  • How do I create a profile on the database?

    To create a profile, you’ll see a button in the upper right titled “Create an Account”. Click the button and follow the instructions.

  • I forgot my username and password. How do I retrieve them?

    On the home page, in the upper right, you’ll notice the link “Forgot your password?” Click the link and follow the instructions. If you do not receive an email, please first check your spam or junk folders. If you still cannot find it, please email info@coffeeinstitute.org and we’ll reset it for you. Please do not create another account if you already have one!

  • How come my name isn’t on the Q Grader list?

    In order to see your name on this list, we’re asking that all Q Graders please create a registration on our new database. Within 30 days, your name will appear on the list. To create a registration, please go here: http://dev-coffee-quality-institute.pantheonsite.io/register

  • I can’t locate my Q Grader Certificate. Where is it?

    In order to locate your Q Grader certificate please log-in to your account at www.coffeeinstitute.org. Go to “My Profile” tab, click on Gradebooks. On the right hand side of gradebook page you will see your image icon or the world cherry icon, underneath icon it says “ View Q Certificate” click on that in order to view or print Q Grader Certificate. (EN) English version (ES) Spanish version.

  • I need to print my Q Certificate. How do I do it?

    If you log in to your profile, and if you passed all of the required exams, your Q Grader Certificate will be available on your profile. After logging in, simply go to “My Profile” and follow the link underneath your profile picture.

  • The spelling on my certificate isn’t correct. What do I do?

    First please be advised that our database reflects the names input into the profiles onto the certificates. Second the database does not recognize and properly register accents therefore it causes errors on the display of names on Q Certificates. You can sign in to your CQI profile and update your personal information yourself.

  • How come I can’t upload a photo to my profile?

    Please keep in mind maximum file for image upload is 8MB. Please make sure it is a JPEG file.

  • What is a Q Robusta Grader?

    A Q Robusta Grader is a Licensed Robusta Grader, just like our Q Arabica Graders. Q Robusta Graders must pass 22 tests to become certified.

  • I am interested in becoming a Q Robusta Grader. What is the process?

    If you wish to become a Licensed Q Robusta Grader, you need to take a full Q Robusta Grader Exam. The course structure is the same as the Q Grader Exam, but with different characteristics and tests. There are no prerequisites, but just as the Q Arabica Exam, we highly recommend you have a strong familiarity with the cupping process, cupping form, and experience with robustas.

  • Are there any pre-requisites required to sign up for a Q Grader Exam?

    Currently, there are no formal requirements to enroll. However, the Q Grader Exam is not a course for inexperienced or new cuppers; it is an advanced level course. It is highly recommended that you practice your skills by signing up for SCAA Skill Building Workshops offered throughout the year, including SCAA’s The Event. For more information, please refer to the SCAA website.

  • Do I need to study with any particular material before a Q Grader Exam?

    There are several tools that could be helpful such as the SCAA Cupping Handbook, SCAA Green Coffee Classification Chart, SCAA Brewing Handbook, SCAA Cupping Protocol & Cupping Form, among others. All of these can be found at the SCAA Resource Center and are available to purchase at SCAA’s online store.

  • When is the next Q Grader Course happening in my area?

    All upcoming courses are listed on the database. If you go to “All Things Q” (the box midway down the home page on the right), you will see the full course schedule. Each profile lists the instructor(s), location, date and cost. If you have any questions about the course, please contact the instructor directly. His/her email is located on the course profile.

  • How do I enroll for a course?
    1. Sign in to CQI database
    2. Go to Courses Tab and choose Upcoming Courses
    3. Scroll through courses and click on course you wish to register for
    4. If you are a new student click on Enroll at the top right of page. If you are a retake student please click on Retake test to enroll
  • How do I enroll for a retake?

    To enroll for a retake, please go to the Upcoming Events list, open the course profile and click the “Retake Test” button in the upper right. If you do not see this button, you must first log-in.

  • How much does a Q Grader Exam cost?

    The amount charged to participate in a Q Grader Exam varies depending on course location and instructor. Please contact the instructor directly if you do not see a cost listed on the course profile.

  • I started a Q Grader Exam some time ago; do I need to retake the whole class or only individual tests?

    Once you start a Q Grader Exam, you have 18 months to complete it. If you took your initial exams more than 18 months ago, you need to take the full Q Grader Exam again. If it was less than 18 months ago, you can just re-take the individual tests you need.

  • Does the Q Grader Certificate have an expiration date?

    The Q Grader certificate is valid for 3 years. After that time, Q Graders who wish to re-certify need to participate in a Q Grader calibration to maintain their status. CQI is currently offering Q Calibration Tests for all Licensed Q Graders whose licenses have expired or will expire soon. If you are interested in getting calibrated please sign up for an upcoming Calibration Tests in your area. All courses on our website are updated in real time, meaning as soon as we get the information from an instructor, it’s posted on our website. Please be sure to go to www.coffeeinstitute.org and click on the upcoming courses tab to see all upcoming courses in real time. I hope you will find a location and time frame that is convenient for you. You may also continue checking our website, as new courses are posted in real-time every week.

    Students are allotted a one-year window from certificate expiration date to calibrate, specifically 6 months prior to certification expiration and 6 months following certificate expiration.

  • How do I become recertified?

    The Q Grader certificate is valid for 3 years. After that time, Q Graders who wish to re-certify need to participate in a Q Grader calibration to maintain their status. CQI is beginning to offer Q Calibration Tests and Q Recertification Courses for all Licensed Q Graders whose licenses have expired or will expire soon. If you are interested in getting calibrated, please fill out the form so that we can better understand geographical demand and keep you posted on upcoming Calibration Tests in your area. You can also continue checking our website, as new courses are posted in real-time every week.

  • What is a calibration?

    Since your license expires after 3 years, you must be calibrated to maintain status as an active Licensed Q Grader. A CQI Calibration consists of three cuppings, and to renew your Q Grader License, you need to pass 2 out of the 3 cuppings. If you do not pass, you have one opportunity for a retake. If you fail the second time, you must take a Re-certification Course.

  • Am I eligible for a Q Grader Calibration extension?

    CQI has been offering Q Calibration Tests for all international licensed Q Graders whose licenses have expired or will expire soon. CQI has made repeated announcements on this program update. Unfortunately we have ended the calibration extensions period for Q Graders in the U.S. All U.S. Q Graders that wish to reestablish certification will be required to complete a Q Grader Combo testing and exam course. If you are interested in reestablishing your Q certification please sign up for an upcoming Q Grader Combo Training and Exam course in your area. All courses on our website are updated in real time, meaning as soon as we get the information from an instructor, it’s posted on our website. Please be sure to go to www.coffeeinstitute.org and click on the upcoming courses tab to see all upcoming courses in real time. We hope you will find a location and time frame that is convenient for you. You may also continue checking our website, as new courses are posted in real-time every week.

  • Can I contact a private instructor to come teach classes at my lab / facilities?

    Yes! On the website, under “Q Coffee System”, you’ll find a tab called “Q Instructors”. This list contains all current CQI-sanctioned Q Instructors. To request information, simply click on his/her name and click the “Send message” button, located directly underneath the profile picture.

  • Do you offer Q Grader logos for use on business cards, websites, etc…?

    Yes. If you’re an active Q Grader, you can find these high-res logos by logging-in and going to “Files” in the top header.

  • Do I need a profile on the CQI database to submit a coffee sample for Q Evaluation?

    Yes, in order to submit a sample to be Q Evaluated you need to first create a registration/profile on our database. Please be sure to select “owner” as user type.

  • How do I submit a sample to be evaluated?

    You must first select an In-Country Partner (ICP) from our list. Once you’ve selected an ICP, you’ll need to mail a 2 kg sample of green coffee to that ICP. REMEMBER: the sample must represent one lot of less. In addition, you’ll need to submit the evaluation form online by logging in and going to “Submit New Sample” at the top menu.

  • How much does it cost to get my coffee Q Graded?

    Fees range from $150 to $350 per sample, which includes the ICP administration fee, Q Grader fee and CQI fee ($90 administration fee). Please contact your ICP for fee information.

    Roughly, Q Grading amounts to less than a penny a pound per lot. This estimate includes a number of variables, such as in-country Q Grading costs, the number of bags/lot, etc.

  • How do I become a Q Instructor?

    It’s a bit complicated, so we’ve made a handy little road map to guide you through the process. Click here to check it out.

  • How does CQI define a lot of coffee?

    A lot of coffee is 320 bags or less (i.e. equivalent to the maximum load on a transportation vessel). If your lot is larger, it must be divided to meet this requirement.

  • How is the 2 kilogram sample divided?

    The sample is divided into three parts: 350 grams for green grading and roasting (one part), 250 grams for cupping only (two parts) and the remaining as a reference sample.

  • What if I cannot afford to have every lot Q graded?

    We encourage everyone to use a Licensed Q Grader to receive an evaluation from him/her first. If the coffee scores close to 80 or higher (and passes green defect test), then we recommend sending it through the official Q Grading System, although we cannot guarantee that it will meet the minimum standards for specialty. However, if it does meet specialty standards, your coffee will receive an official Q Certificate.

  • After my sample is graded and I receive a Q Certificate (i.e. the coffee has scored 80 points or higher), what value does it have?

    The Q Certificate signifies that this coffee is among some of the best in the world and can be deemed “specialty”, following the standards of SCAA. The certificate provides feedback and cupper notes and information about specific attributes of the coffee. It also signifies an independent, third party evaluation of quality that clients can trust.

  • What is a Technical Report?

    If a coffee receives a Q Technical Report it has been evaluated by Q Graders and has not received an average score of 80 points or higher, OR it did not pass the green defect grading. For a coffee to be considered specialty, or Q, a minimum of 80 points must be earned and it must pass green defect grading. But don’t be discouraged! The technical report is very useful for the owner because it includes details of the coffee attributes and helps highlight where the coffee may improve.

  • How do I track my coffee sample as it is being evaluated and retrieve the potential coffee sample Q certification?

    Once your assigned ICP receives your sample, you can track its status online by logging into your account. You may track sample progress and will receive either a Q Certificate or a Technical Report, depending on the outcome.

  • Is there a coffee sample tutorial available?

    For an overview on submitting a coffee sample you can login to your profile on our database at http://database.coffeeinstitute.org/, go to COFFEES where you can also view a PDF that will provide you with step-by-step instructions on creating a coffee sample.

  • How can I purchase a Q Coffee™?

    You must first be logged into the database, then once you are viewing a Q Arabica or Q Robusta Certificate, you can click the “Email Owner” button and customize a message to send.

  • What is a licensing Partner?

    A Licensing Partner is a company that has agreed to use CQI’s Q Certification Marks on its labels and other marketing materials.

  • Why should I become a Licensing Partner?

    Licensing Partners have access to an independent, third party seal of quality that consumers can trust. It remains the sole mark for quality in the entire coffee industry.

  • I just purchased a Q Coffee™. Now what?

    If you’ve purchased Q Coffee and are interested in using CQI’s Q Certification Marks on your bag and/or other marketing materials, then you’ll have to first become a Licensing Partner. To do so, please register on our database (if you aren’t yet registered): http://database.coffeeinstitute.org/register

    Once registered, you’re able to fill out a Licensing Partner application:

    http://coffeeinstitute.org/the-q-coffee-system/become-a-licensing-partner. Please download the application, fill it out and scan it back to us.

  • Why is there a licensing fee?

    The licensing fee of $.01/lb is required in order to cover CQI’s administrative services and is based on the entire volume of Q Coffees™ purchased by the Licensee.