The Department Of Agriculture Standards To
Certified Grades Of Green Kona Coffee

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Updated Rules of Coffee Standards

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AGEDA cupping condition that may affect sales.  Occurring when parchment is stored for a long time usually at least 2 years.  This causes chemical changes that lessen acidity and increase body.  Green beans usually turn a golden or caramel color.  (Prevention-Some buyers look for aged coffee, Prevention is through timely processing.)

BLACK BEANS: 1 BLACK BEAN counts as a full imperfection.  Usually it’s dead coffee beans that died on the tree due to disease or stress.  Blacks will also occur through poor processing when cherry or beans are left unattended in areas or containers that cause them to die or start to rot.  A common occurrence is when cherry bags are not emptied completely and old coffee is left in the bags till the next time the bag is used.  (Prevention-Sound harvesting and processing practices that includes good sanitation and quality control at every step.)

BAGGY OR BURLAPY: A condition that affects the cupping quality.  An off taste in cupping that resembles weak roasted coffee with a baggy burlap essence.  Poor storage in bags in humid conditions contributes to the defect.  (Prevention- It is not a processing or technological defect, but a post processing handling and care problem.  Rapid inventory turn over is the best remedy.)

FERMENTED OR SOUR:  A major defect affecting the cupping quality.  Occurs frequently to unsuspecting.  A winery vinegary flavor caused by the sugar to acid changes in the cherry and mucilage.  Some say it resembles the rotting pulp smell after wet processing.  The green beans may turn a yellowish shade in color a lighter color than normal green beans.  If not sure test by using pliers and smashing and opening the beans and smelling it.  The smell will be of a sour vinegary taint depending on degree of defect.  Caused by improper harvesting of over ripe and tree fermented cherry.  Keeping too long after harvesting and fermentation process starts in the bag.  Poor processing and having too much pulp left.  Poor fermentation in wet process (leaving too long). (Prevention- Timely harvesting of quality cherries is the first step, do not harvest over ripe or brown coffee and mix with high quality cherry.  Process cherry within 24 hours of harvesting.  Do not store in burlap bags over 12 hours and stack.  Cherry pulp should be at zero after pulping. Do not ferment over 14 hours.  Use lots of clean water when washing parchment after fermentation.  Dry immediately after washing.)

FRUITYA flavor resembling a fruit, cherry, sweet and acid.  Usually happens when too much cherry skin is present and the fermentation process is not totally complete.  Also occurs when you dry process.  This is when the cherry is dried with the cherry pulp on.  It can also occur when the coffee cherry dries on the trees due to the inability to harvest soon enough.  (Prevention-Do not let cherry stay in the pulp and dry.  Insure proper fermentation.)

QUAKERS AND FLOATERSLight discolored beans.  Floaters are not as impacting on flavor as some other defects such as “SOUR” or “BLACKS” but a significant number will affect the cup giving it a peanutty flavor and when these beans are roasted they appear light in color.  Floaters usually are immature, underdeveloped, or blighted beans that are harvested.  In the wet process many of these can be removed.  (Prevention-Good harvesting techniques where green, immature or diseased cherries are not picked.)

RANCIDDispleasing flavor or odor like rancid oils.  Oxidation of oils causes deterioration of the oils and it turns rancid.  Most notable is when roasted coffee is stored for an extended period of time letting the oils actually spoil.  (Prevention- Always buy fresh roasted coffee and only in amounts that you are able to use before the condition sets in.  Keep as air tight as possible and store in a cool place)


1.             Quality of Kona may be changing due to:
  a.                Cross breeding of varieties
  b.               Introductions of other varieties like: Caturra, Catuai and Yellow varieties
  c.                More low elevation coffee
  d.               Pruning practices where younger verticals are prevalent.
  e.                Pesticide usage
  f.                 Fertilizer formulations
  g.                Cultural practices such as re-introduction of husk and pulp.

2.             Grading and Prices will be affected by bean size.
   a.                Some varieties do not have high percentage of Extra Fancy and Fancy green beans.

3.             Industry protection by Research and Development of disease resistant strains, High yield varieties, High cupping quality varieties, Fingerprinting of varieties to protect our strains and collect royalties on our research.

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