Coffee is graded by independent trained experts who are certified by the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI).
Arabica coffee beans are classified in five categories or grades of quality.
•Commodity / Exchange / Standard Grade
• Below Standard Grade
Commodity / Exchange grade beans are the lowest quality beans legally importable into the U.S. and are the grade traded on the commodities exchange. This grade of coffee is typically sold in large cans of grounds at the supermarket.
Premium Gradecoffees are good coffees commonly chosen by entities such as McDonald’s or Burger King as well as many restaurants. This grade of coffee is making its way into some gas stations, many fast-food restaurants and makes up the bulk of the coffee sold in bags at the local grocery stores.
Specialty Grade coffee represents the top 5% to 8% of Arabica coffee beans grown on the planet. This grade is typically what is roasted by entities such Starbucks, Caribou, Peet’s Coffee and many other large chain roasters. Because of the higher cost of Specialty Grade beans, the large chains are known to blend a little Specialty Grade beans with a lot of lower grade beans.
Top 1%. I Have a Bean coffee is selected from the top 1%. That's the very top end of Specialty Grade coffee. Many ‘artisan‘ coffee roasters are happy with simply “Specialty Grade” and within that grade are buying mostly on price. While price is an important consideration, we are mostly concerned with quality and taste over price. We put our coffee through a rigorous roasting and tasting protocol to ascertain its quality before we select it or release it to the market. The results are in the cup.