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SCA Launching Beta Version of Sweeping New Coffee Evaluation System

SCA cupping form

An SCA cupping form. Daily Coffee News photo by Nick Brown.

The Specialty Coffee Association is launching a beta version of its new Coffee Value Assessment, which is designed to ultimately replace the group’s cupping protocol and cupping form.

Given the vast membership and market influence of the United States- and Europe-based SCA, the new system has the potential to dramatically refine and reshape how coffee is evaluated, and thus valued, by actors throughout the coffee chain.

The SCA’s existing cupping protocol and form have been widely adopted and expanded upon throughout the global coffee industry for the purpose of green coffee evaluation, although the protocol and form have not received significant revisions since 2004.

While the current SCA cupping form results in a single score on a 100-point scale, the new Coffee Value Assessment system is designed to produce a holistic view of a coffee’s value, in part by accounting for the taster’s “impression of quality” alongside sensorial attributes.

coffee evaluation

Daily Coffee News photo by Nick Brown.

The beta launch of the new Coffee Value Assessment — which is being supported by an “early adopter” program led by the SCA — follows two years of work by the industry membership organization that has focused on redefining specialty coffee itself, as well as how it is formally assessed.

The group in 2021 proposed a whole new definition for specialty coffee that for the first time broached the subject of extrinsic value, including perception of value in the marketplace, as a potential defining attribute of coffee.

Just last week, the group published a white paper that argued that the roles and skills of professional coffee cuppers have and/or should be expanded to include the communication of value.

In short, the new Coffee Value Assessment will account for both physical and extrinsic assessments of green coffee. 

In an announcement today, the group states that by separating the objective description of a coffee’s flavor profile from the taster’s “impression of quality,” the new Coffee Value Assessment will therefore reflect best practices in sensory and consumer science, making it compatible with further scientific research.

SCA coffee event

A large SCA flavor wheel at the 2018 SCA Expo. Daily Coffee News photo by Nick Brown.

In an announcement today, SCA CEO Yannis Apostolopoulos said, “This new holistic understanding of value, in addition to the assessments’ compatibility with scientific research, will create more robust, transparent records of what is valued and by whom, on a large scale, allowing us to create a more accessible value discovery tool.”

The group is introducing the new system at this week’s Re:co Symposium in Portland, an event focused on innovation and industry leadership taking place in the two days ahead of the SCA’s annual Specialty Coffee Expo in Portland, Oregon.

The group said Re:co attendees and Expo-goers will have numerous opportunities to engage with the new form. Additional information can be found here.

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