How do I find out if a cafe is serving "Certified" specialty coffee?

Hello! I’ve been reading about Q grades and the ratings the SCA gives out for judging specialty; but I’ve had some trouble looking into specific cafes and their ratings (or if that have any.)
Of course we can assume Blue Bottle, Intelligentsia, etc, all have above 80 coffee, yet how do we know? I can’t for the life of me find anything specific about their coffees.
Maybe I’m missing something obvious, maybe I’ve even missed the point entirely, but I’d love to be enlightened here.
Thank you in advanced!

(I looked for this on the forum and hope that I didn’t repeat anything)

Honestly, the biggest thing is that you WOULD know if you weren’t drinking specialty grade. It’s a whole nother world.

It’s true, it is. I guess that makes sense. I also understand ratings above 85-88+ can be very subjective. But chances are you’ll be able to tell the difference.

I guess I’m trying to view it as an educational experience. “Oh this is what a coffee can taste like that’s in the 85 range.” “Oh this is what a coffee tastes like at 80.”

You know?

Personal flavour profile preference is far more important than the number on the score sheet. Further, any shop can take a 95+ lot and roast it to maybe an 80 score, then the baristi can further degrade it by not doing THEIR bit as well as could do.

Best solution is to GO THERE and taste the standard production grade coffees they put into your cup before it glides across the counter and into yur hand.

THen there is YOUR personal preference… I’ve cupped and scored some, no expert by any stretch of the term, but some 85 coffees, the way they are presented, please me more than some 95 point coffees. I have my preferences in variety, processing, roasting style, brew methods, and at times I find that what I like myself may or may not correspond to cupping scores on arriva, what the importer would target.

Having visited and tasted a given shop’s wares, I suppose you could always ask staff to see if they know, or could find out, the score. If it is a COE coffee, you can always go onto the website for COE and check the auction results, which will include each lot by farm, grower, other distinctives, and the score. j

Hi @Lunapire,

I’m not aware of any agronomy-based certifications specific to specialty coffee; however, there’s a number of certifications (organic, rainforest alliance, bird sanctuary, etc.) for other agricultural products, including coffee. Of course by definition, specialty coffee should score 80+ in standard SCA cupping, but taste + aromas will always be at least a little subjective. Instead, the cafe’s you’ve listed here are specialty because people are willing to pay more for their coffee experience as opposed to someplace else or brewing @ home.

Semantics I know, but let’s assume that if we’re in a 3W (defining this is tricky too…) shop, then we’re only being served 80+ coffee.


Hey Lunapire, I’m late to the board but here’s another 2 cents to consider. You can take 2 coffee’s at 85 – one you will like more than the other for one super easy way to figure. There are 10 points awarded to each facet of reaching 100. If “Body” is your thing, look for it at 9 or above. And if Finish, Aftertaste, Brightness are important to you, apply that standard. You can enjoy a cup scoring 80 more than one scoring 90 based on what you react to the parts vs the sum of those parts.