Written by CQI Representative
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 17:43
Last Updated on Friday, 19 October 2012 17:17
Date: September 1, 2012
To: CQI, Q Instructors, Q Graders
From: David Roche, Executive Director
RE: Q Grader Calibration and Recertification Policy and Procedures
Dear Q Graders:
We are writing to inform all Licensed Q Graders about some new changes to our program. A Q Grader License is now valid for a thirty-six (36) month period, commencing on the last day of the initial course, even if the Q Grader did not pass all of the required tests at this course.
Due to this change in our program, 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.
We understand that you may have questions or concerns regarding your status as a Q Grader. Please take a moment to review the information below, as we believe it will answer the majority of your questions. If you have any other questions, please contact Alexandra Katona-Carroll at
CQI truly values and appreciates your understanding and support of the Q Coffee System as we continue to move forward and improve our programs. We look forward to your continued progress as a Q Grader.
Thank you for your support,
Executive Director, CQI
A Q Grader maintains a valid license at the end of the thirty-six (36) month period by successfully passing a Calibration Test (described below) within one year of the Q Grader License expiration. Upon successful completion, the Q Grader’s License is renewed for a new thirty-six (36) month period. Please note that Q Graders who received their initial license through December 2010 can still reactivate their license by passing a Calibration Test. All of these individuals are required to pass a Calibration Test by December 31, 2013.
If a Q Grader has not successfully passed the Calibration Test within one (1) year following the expiration of his/her Q Grader License as described above, the Q Grader will be placed on CQI’s “Inactive List” and his/her name will be removed from CQI’s website. S/he will not be allowed to Q Grade coffee until s/he passes a Q Grader Calibration Test and are placed on the “Active List.”
If a Q Grader does not pass the Calibration Test, they are required to take the two-day Q Grader Recertification Course. CQI is also encouraging those that have been notified that they are out of calibration to participate in a Calibration Test to maintain active Q Grader status (please refer to Annex D for more details).
CALIBRATION TESTING DETAILS
Passing a Calibration Test is required for those Q Graders whose licenses are about to expire or have already expired. All Q Graders will need to pass in a Calibration Test if they received their Q Grader License in 2007 or earlier. Please note that Q Graders who received their initial license through December 2010 can still reactivate their license by passing a Calibration Test. All of these individuals are required to pass a Calibration Test by December 31, 2013.
Q Grader Licenses will be reinstated and reissued for all Q Graders who pass the Calibration Test. Q Graders who do not pass the Calibration Testing will be required to take a two-day Recertification Test, described below. Please refer to Annex C for more details.
The objective of this activity is to recalibrate a Q Grader with different coffee qualities to use as a reference. Calibration Testing is conducted for Q Graders to recalibrate, to retrain on Q Grading Protocols, and to review the Q Grader Code of Ethics. Recalibration is necessary when Q Graders are not cupping frequently, and their taste sensitivity and attribute scoring become out of alignment compared to fellow cuppers for the quality of coffees they are presented. If a Q Grader has already been out of calibration in one or more evaluations, please review Annex D for further details.
A calibration activity reestablishes the parameters of how to identify various quality levels in coffee, ranging from exceptional to specialty to premium, and down to commercial grade coffees. The activity will consist of three tasting sessions coffees to be cupped are described in the Calibration Testing below. During the Calibration Testing, the results of all cuppers are entered into an Excel document to assess their capabilities in rating coffee attributes at similar levels compared to other Q Graders, identical to the protocol in which they were evaluated in their original Q Grader testing. The spreadsheet indicates if the cupper is in calibration or not, based on the quality of the coffees and the similarities of the scores.
At the same time during this calibration session, Q Graders will also review the cupping protocols/standards for a Q Evaluation, including: the rule of silent work, objective evaluation of varying grades of coffees, cupping protocols, green grading standards, and roasting/Quaker tests according to SCAA Protocols. Calibration Testing is a one day activity.
RECERTIFICATION COURSE DETAILS
Those Q Graders who take the Calibration Test and do not pass the Calibration Test, or a second retake Calibration Test, are required to take a Q Recertification Course. Please refer to Annex C for more details.
THE Q COFFEE SYSTEM
The core of CQI’s Q Coffee System is built on the cupping skills of the Q Grader. The objective and standardized evaluation of the Q Grader is essential to maintain the integrity of the Q Coffee System, whether it be an official Q Grading evaluation, a preliminary assessment provided by a Q Grader, or simply an evaluation to provide feedback to the owner of the coffee.
CQI continuously monitors Q Graders that have participated in the Q Coffee System and reviews these evaluations. CQI also keeps track of all Licensed Q Graders in each country, and their “License” issue and expiration date. Ongoing, CQI will be offer through its ICPs, the Q Calibration Tests and the Q Recertification Courses. It is the responsibility of all Q Graders to keep their license current if they wish to remain active in the Q Coffee System.
Q GRADER CERTIFICATION PERIOD
A Q Grader maintains a valid license at the end of the thirty-six (36) month period by successfully passing a Calibration Test (described below) within one (1) year of the Q Grader License expiration. Upon successful completion, the Q Grader’s License is renewed for a new thirty-six (36) month period.
Q GRADER CALIBRATION TEST REQUIREMENTS
A Q Calibration Test is a one (1) day exercise conducted by a certified Q Grader Instructor in which eighteen (18) coffees are cupped in three (3) separate cupping sessions of six (6) coffees each.
For Q Graders in coffee producing countries:
1. Two (2) of the sessions must contain coffees from the Country of Origin of the cuppers. In each session coffees of various qualities will be presented.
2. One (1) of the sessions must contain an International Mix of “washed, mild coffees,” principally from Central America and Colombia, but also including coffees from East Africa, Indonesia and Brazil when available.
For Q Graders in coffee consuming countries:
1. One (1) of the sessions must contain six (6) coffees from Eastern Africa. These coffees will vary in quality.
2. One (1) of the sessions must contain six (6) coffees from Indonesia. These coffees will vary in quality.
3. One (1) of the sessions must contain an International Mix of “washed, mild coffees,” principally from Central America and Colombia, but also including washed coffees from Brazil when available. These coffees will vary in quality.
Cupping and scoring protocols:
1. The coffees are to be cupped according to the SCAA Cupping Protocol and the scores recorded on the SCAA Cupping Form.
2. The cupping data for each Q Grader is entered on the Calibration Test Score Sheet, which automatically calculates the Q Graders’ pass/fail scores.
3. The Q Graders must receive a passing score of 86 or higher on two (2) of the three (3) tests in order to renew their Q license. (NOTE: a valid Q Grader license is required to continue Q Grading coffees for an established In-Country-Partner (ICP).
4. Q Graders failing the Calibration Test may retake the entire set of calibration cupping tests one (1) time only. If they do not pass the second round of calibration cupping tests, they are required to complete the Q Recertification Course, described below.
Q GRADER RECERTIFICATION COURSE
The Q Grader Recertification Course is a two-day (2 day) program consisting of five test exercises:
1. Sensory Skills Test – Parts I, II, and III (same as Q Grader course)
2. Cupping Skills Test – Three cupping skills tests: (A reference sample will be provided to orient cuppers at the beginning of each session.)
i. Country of Origin (Central America for consuming country graders)
ii. East Africa
3. Triangulation Skills Test – Three triangulation tests
4. Olfactory Skills Test – Parts A, B, C, and D (same as Q Grader course)
5. Matching Pairs Skills Test (same as Q Grader course)
The course must be taught by a certified Q Grader Instructor and the tests must be given in exactly the same manner as the original, five-day (5 day) Q Grader course.
To successfully complete the Recertification Course, the Q Grader must pass ALL of the tests. Only one (1) retake is allowed for each test, and a minimum of five (5) Q Graders are required for each of the Cupping Skills Test.
Q Graders failing the Recertification Course must repeat the course within six (6) months in order to reinstate their Q Grader license.
Q Graders who fail the second Recertification Course must retake the entire Q Grader Exam in order to reinstate their Q Grader license.
Q GRADER OUT OF CALIBRATION WHILE LICENSE IS CURRENT
The following policies only apply to those Q Graders whose licenses are currently active and are participating in Q Evaluations. If you have been notified that you are out of calibration at least three (3) times, you will need to participate in a calibration activity to maintain active Q Grader status.
CQI’s policy is as follows:
1) The first time the Q Grader is out of calibration, CQI notifies the ICP and the ICP informs the Q Grader and makes them aware, by showing their his scores compared to the other Graders.
2) The second time the Q Grader is out of calibration, CQI speaks with the Q Grader, with the ICP’s involvement, and reminds them of their deviation from the norm in order to determine why it is happening. At this point, CQI also makes an effort to conduct a calibration test with the Q Grader, either by participating in three (3) of the cupping sessions held in nearby Q Certification Course or through a Q Grader Calibration Test. The cupper is officially warned that if there is another incident, their license will be rescinded. CQI also makes the ICP aware of the situation and asks the ICP to monitor the results of future Q Evaluations.
3) The third time the Q Grader is out of calibration, CQI speaks with the ICP and together advises the Q Grader that their license is suspended, and the Q Grader is removed from the “Active List” of Certified Q Graders. To reactivate their license, the Q Grader must pass a Q Calibration Test. If they fails the Calibration Test, they must pass the Q Recertification Course before they can be certified to evaluate coffees for the Q Coffee System.