Red Sirocco Q Grader Robusta Training

Q Grader Robusta Training & Certification with Samuel Gurel

Course No. 2266

Date: Oct 09, 2018 – Oct 14, 2018  | 9am-6pm (All Days)
Venue: IIPM, Bangalore

For the first time in India, Red Sirocco brings the Q Robusta (R Grader) course that aims to improve the quality of Robusta coffee which is native to Uganda, and train coffee professionals in the standards for Fine Robusta.

Rs. 1,50,000

About the Q Grader Program

The Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) designed the Q Grader program to create a skilled and credible body of specialty Arabica and robusta coffee cuppers.   The role of these cuppers is to consistently and accurately assess coffee quality, both cup and grade, as a part of its Q Coffee System. Today, that program is the only internationally recognized certificate system for Arabica and Robusta coffee cuppers.

Q Graders are recognized as cuppers as skilled to:

  • Objectively assess coffee quality
  • Identify, quantify and articulate coffee characteristics
  • Detect coffee defects
  • Communicate coffee characteristics using common industry terminology

Upon successful completion of the Q Grader program, certified Q Graders are permitted to evaluate Arabica or robusta coffees for CQI or a CQI In-country Partner.

A Q Grader certificate is valid for three (3) years and is renewable upon completion of an accredited calibration offered by an authorized instructor.

A Q Grader Course is a six (6) day series of calibration exercises and exams consisting of twenty (20) individual tests that must be passed in order to qualify for certification. Candidates that do not pass all sections during the five day course period may retake those tests during the course period or anytime after within eighteen (18) months.

Q Robusta Grader (R Grader)

In order to become a Q Robusta Grader (R Grader), one must pass all the following R Grader exams. Often, these are similar to Q Arabica (Q Grader) exams but apply different concepts or formulas.  

Meet Your Instructor

Samuel Gurel

President, Torch Coffee Company

Samuel has a passion and dream to develop world-class specialty coffee in China. He has worked at origin in Ethiopia, Yemen, Guatemala and China, experimenting applied research in coffee processing, specifically naturals, honeys, focusing on fermentation and embryogenic activity.

His passion is that through education, he can help improve quality of coffee and help improve the quality of life for farmers. He is also a certified Q Arabica Grader and Q Robusta Grader Instructor.

Q Robusta Grader Test Details

 A true / false exam of 100 questions about Robusta coffee cupping and grading, roasting, brewing, cultivation, harvesting and processing.

Test subjects must identify three (3) intensities of salt, sour, sweet and bitter odorless solutions individually and when combined in mixtures.

  • Part I: Reference.  Participants taste three samples (low, medium, high) of each taste group (salt, sour, sweet, bitter).  Next, rank them by intensity.
  • Part II: Blind Identification. All twelve (12) sample solutions return blind and must be identified by group and intensity.
  • Part III: Mixture Set.  Subjects taste nine (9) mixtures of samples containing a mixture two (2) base solutions. Students must correctly identify type and intensity of base solutions in each mixture.

 Subjects cup and score five (5) flights of six (6) samples, including but not limited to:

  • Brazil Robusta
  • East African / Ugandan Robusta
  • Indian Robusta
  • Indonesian / Asian Robusta
  • West African Robusta coffees (subject to location and availability).

Cupping scoresheets are evaluated based on accuracy and consistency of scoring and descriptions.

The objective of this test is to evaluate an individual’s ability to recognize common aromatic scents often found in the fragrance and aroma of Robusta coffee.

Note that the subjects must first match six (6) among nine (9) blind pairs, then identify three (3) specified vials of scents for each of four (4) groups:

  • Enzymatic: scents originating from cultivation and processing
  • Sugar browning: scents originating from earlier stages of roasting
  • Dry distillation: scents originating from later stages of roasting
  • Aromatic taints: scents resulting from storage, handling and processing errors

Triangulation tests measure the ability to differentiate coffees by flavor unique attributes associated with each region. Test subjects must taste and identify the one (1) different cup in each set of three (3) for six (6) sets in each test.

Test subjects must identify six (6) of the more common acids found in Robusta coffee: acetic acid, malic acid, phosphoric acid, citric acid, lactic acid and quinic acid.

Eight (8) sets of four (4) cups of brewed coffee are placed on a table.  Participants must identify which two coffees fortified with one of the common acids in each set and which are plain.


Participants receive three (3) 350g green robusta coffee sample and must grade each pursuant to Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) green grading protocols, correctly identifying each defect, tabulating the total defect count and identifying the grade of green coffee.

Participants identify the number of roast defects found in one (1) 100g roasted robusta coffee sample and correctly identify that sample as commercial, premium or Fine Robusta.

This test measures knowledge of UCDA robusta cupping protocol roasting instructions. Subjects receive four trays of coffee.  One meets Robusta cupping protocol specifications and the other three are unacceptable.  Unacceptable samples are a) under-roasted, b) baked, c) over-roasted or d) underdeveloped. Participants must identify each sample and explain how he or she reached a conclusion.

How to prepare for the Q Grader Course exams?

It’s a good question and one that is not easy to quickly answer. Some may prefer to attend a Q Grader certification course ‘blind’ as a baseline assessment of his or her coffee cupping skill level.  For most of us, plunking down some amount or more plus travel to take a week away from work would rather perform as best as we can.  If successful, you can pass all the course’s 20 exams and bring home a Q Certificate in exchange for the investment.

Although Q courses are open to participants at any cupping skill level. Be aware that it is normal for experienced cuppers to fail some of the program’s exercises.  Everyone should begin preparing for the exams a few weeks or months in advance of a scheduled class to improve your likelihood of passing. Repeat the exercises after becoming a CQI certified Q Grader to maintain proficiency.  Make use of your investment and keep your skills sharpened in the workplace.

Q Grader Salary

What is a typical Q Grader salary?  

A Q Grader certificate is awarded for the assessment of competencies and knowledge and is not tied to the holder’s position.

Any coffee professional from the C.E.O. of a large coffee company, coffee buyer, exporter or barista may be a Q Grader by the exams.  Sometimes, Q Graders are unemployed or consumer enthusiasts with no coffee related income.

As a result, survey of salaries used to determine averages would also need to distinguish between positions.  Also consider the same certificate is issued by CQI worldwide.  This requires adjustment for cost of living in every city.  In short, there is no standard “Q Grader” job role and thus, no meaningful way to track its annual income.

The Q Grader certificate program is older than programs offered by either SCAA or SCAE and has strong brand recognition.  The later point is particularly true in coffee producing countries and consuming countries of Asia.  Asian consuming countries were early adopters of the Q Grader system.  It remains an authoritative standard recognized in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and more recently, China.

Job posting requirements now include “Q Grader certificate” with increasing frequency.  Job listings that do not explicitly mention a Q Grader status may require competencies addressed by the program.  In this situation, a Q Grader applicant may use the certificate as proof of competency.

So when answering the question, “what is a Q Grader salary?” there is no numerical value but there is a simple answer. A Q Grader’s salary is likely higher than other coffee professionals without the certificate.  How much so will depend on you and where you live.

Q Grader Calibration

A Q Grader certificate is valid for thirty six (36) months, beginning from the first course attempt.  It may extend at for another 36 month period by passing a calibration exam.

Q Grader Calibration testing is a one-day (1 day) exercise conducted by a Q Instructor.  Eighteen (18) coffees are cupped in three (3) separate groups of six (6) coffees each. Participants must pass two of three sets following Q Grader cupping skills exams protocols.

Q graders failing calibration testing may retake the entire set of cupping tests once. If failing to pass a second round of cupping tests, his or she must complete a recertification exam to reinstate Q Grader active status.

Q Grader Recertification

The Q Grader Recertification Course is a two day (2 day) program taught in the same manner as the full six (6) day Q Grader course by a certified instructor.

Recertification testing consists of five (5) test exercises:

1. Sensory Skills Test – Parts I, II, and II

2. Cupping Skills Tests.  Three cupping skills tests: (A reference sample will be provided to orient cuppers at the beginning of each session.)

  • Country of Origin (Central America for consuming country graders)
  • East Africa
  • Indonesia

3. Triangulation Skills Test – Three triangulation tests

4. Olfactory Skills Test – Parts A, B, C, and  D

5. Matching Pairs Skills Test

To pass the Q Grader Recertification Course, the Q Grader must pass all tests. Only one (1) exam retake is allowed for each test.  A minimum of five (5) Q Graders are required for each of the Cupping Skills Tests.

For any queries, please call us on +91 99006 77094 or write us an email to