As of 2023 CQI Q Graders will calibrate on an annual basis. These are answers to questions that may arise, and we will continue to update this page as more details become available.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - Q Grader Annual Calibrations

Q: Why are we making these changes?

A: Over the years, CQI has heard from the coffee industry and from Q graders about concerns with global inconsistencies in practice and in coffee grades.  To address these inconsistencies in training, grading results and skill-based practices, CQI has evolved the Q System to include an annual Calibration.


Q: What are the benefits?

A: The Q Grader Certification has been a trusted system  the industry for some time but has also received some valid criticisms. Many professional certifications and licenses used in the workplace require annual continuing education. The industry benefits from a scientifically based flavor calibration that can be applied consistently at the global scale, and the Q certificate holder is recognized and rewarded in the industry as having achieved a significant professional certificate one vital to the industry as a whole.


Q:What is a Flavor Calibration?

A: This year, CQI is launching a new tool-flavor standards- that will enable our Q Graders to not only train and calibrate on a coffees score, but build a global language of flavors. In this way, all Q Graders will understand and agree on 14 key coffee flavors that influence quality.

In a flavor calibration, all Q graders will be tested on a random 6 of the 14 CQI Flavor standards. They will be asked to identify 4 of the 6 flavors correctly to pass their annual flavor calibration.

Q: How do I stay in calibration? 

A: Each year, Q Graders have a variety of options for their Annual Flavor Calibration.  

  1. Independently as a remote calibration by ordering the individual kit for $160; this option is available to conduct in your home or workplace at your convenience. The price includes shipping.
  2. If an individual does not want to use an at home kit, they can join locally proctored calibrations – these will be lower cost. These group calibrations may also be held at tradeshows, local coffee events – there are a variety of options.
  3. Every three years, Q Graders will need to attend an in-person Coffee Calibration Course - this is what currently exists – that will now include flavor calibration.


Q: Where can these calibration events happen? 

A: Examples of great places to run these exam events and classes would be: 

  • A CQI in country partner 
  • A Q Venue 
  • An educator’s coffee lab 
  • A cooperative 
  • A local roastery 
  • A producer organization headquarters
  • An importer or exporting facility
  • Industry events such as WOC  

Q: How much will Flavor Calibration cost?

A: It depends on how you decide to calibrate. 

 1. A Q Grader can participate in an online/remote calibration in a group setting

 The fee for this option will be between $35and $50 USD, depending on group size and kit size/cost.

  These sessions can be proctored by a CQI educator or by CQI staff. CQI is committed to working with each   community to ensure this option is available as needed.

2. A Q Grader can participate in an in-person group calibration  

  Fee is between $50 and $75 USD, depending on group size, kit size/cost and location.

   These calibrations can occur almost anywhere: At coffee events, at ICPs or Q Venues, at the local coffee shop -    really anywhere with a water source.

3. A Q Grader can purchase an individual test kit

   For $160 including shipping – this option was designed for convenience as the individual can test at home, at work,    or anywhere water is available. They will be supported by a step-by-step video instruction.


 Q: How do I learn the flavors if I did not take Q 5.0? 

 A: To prepare for the Annual Flavor Calibration, you can train independently or choose to take a preparatory class to gain familiarity with the CQI Flavor Standards. CQI has already released classes which utilize and train on these flavor standards.


 Q: What if I am dual-certified in Robusta and Arabica?

A: Flavor Calibration is not species specific; you will only calibrate once a year.  


Q: I have special circumstances, what can I do?

A: As is always true, CQI will work with our community on a case-by-case basis. Please contact Education Coordinator Laura Ruleman at for further information.  

Q: Where can I find more information about Flavor Calibration supplies?

A: Links to products and instructions on how to open an account are here.