Why is Q so important?
Being competitive and staying ahead of the game in the coffee industry is no small task. Without the right coffee sensory skills, you could quickly find yourself at the back of the line, waiting to rise above others but never having the chance.
No matter what area of coffee you are talking about - barista, brewing, roasting or cupping - sensory skills are the most important foundational tool you could have that translates to your success.
What Does Q Grader Do？
The main job for a Q Grader is quality classification of coffee by green grading. When a Q Grader receives roast samples, they will measure the quality of the samples by bean color, odor, and amount of defects. Then the Q Grader will score the beans by holding a cupping.
It is essential that a Q Grader trains their sensory skills.
CQI’s Q Grader training system is trying to teach Q students how to cup and evaluate the quality of coffee by mastering basic sensory skills.
However, this does not mean that you are a cupping expert after taking the Q Grader. It is very important to continue developing and practicing your sensory skills to become a master of cupping.
CQI founders have aware of this system that they didn’t set Q Grader as a tenure system. Every three years, Q Graders need to recalibrate.
After passing their calibration, they can continue to be qualified. However, if they fail, their Q Grader qualifications will be revoked . Therefore, you can only correct this by retaking Q Grader course and test .
Another situation is, if you voluntarily choose to drop your certification or forget to participate in the calibration after 3 years, you will also lose your Q Certification.
Calibration Every Three Years
So, after learning about the Q system, let’s have a look at information on the calibration! As I mentioned above, the CQI Q grader system was initially intended to do continuous and specific sensory skills training for the cupper.
Therefore, the calibration assessment every three years is a cupping. The Q calibrators will first do a cupping practice and then test, all in a day. They must score and evaluate coffee according to the SCAA cupping protocol.
The exam is cupping 3 groups (6 samples per group, ie 18 coffee). If you can pass two sets of the tests, then you will be recertified. It sounds very easy, but if you have little to no practice after you get your Q grader Certificate, I believe it is difficult to pass this calibration test.
So what should you do if you didn’t pass the calibration? Don’t worry, CQI will give you one more chance to retake. What should you do if you didn't pass the retake test? Do you lose your Q qualification?
Next, I will introduce a way to get Q re-certified.
In addition to a calibration every three years, there is another procedure called Q Grader Recertification.
What Do You Need to Do For “ Recertification?”
The recertification requires the participates to take the 6-day Q Grader course, and they have to pass the following 5 items. If they pass them all, then they can get recertification.
Sensory Skills Test (3 groups)
Cupping Skills Test. It requires the student to take a 3 group (6 samples) test. The same as the calibration.
Triangulation Skills Test. It requires participates to pass any 3 groups of the 4.
Olfactory Skills Test. It requires participants to pass all the 4 groups of olfactory tests.
Matching Pairs Skills Test.
Maybe you will think it is more difficult than calibration. It is.
After 3 years, if you do not pass the calibration, it means there might be some problems with your sensory skills. So, you need to re-learn the course. If you forget to participate in the calibration, you still have to pay the full price.
Therefore, I suggest that you do not stop developing your sensory skills after you get the Q qualification. It will be helpful for continuous cupping and communicating with your instructors and peers. I believe that you will pass the calibration exam.
However, if you are not confident about passing calibration, my suggestion is to participate in the re-certification course. After all, taking a 6-day recertification course will offer more opportunities to pass than the calibration.
So, there are some situations where you have to participate in recertification. Let's have a look！
1.If you did not participate in the calibration in the specified time or extended period.
2.If you participated in the calibration exam but did not pass the first exam, and did not participate in the retake exam within six months.
3.If you participate in the calibration but did not pass the first exam as well as the retake test.
To avoid recertification, don't forget to get your Q-grader calibrate.