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What you need to know about the Coffee Review 100-Point Scale

September 12, 2017

| By Savannah Phillips |

You may have noticed, either in our shop or our online store, that some of our coffees, have a ‘Coffee Review’ graphic with a numeric score on our labels. We get quite a few questions about this, so I thought it is as good of a time as any to explain what you need to know about the Coffee Review 100-point scale.

Coffee Review, now known as one of the leading coffee guides in the world, was co-founded in 1997 by Ron Walters and Kenneth David, two coffee experts with the purpose of reviewing coffees with the same level of seriousness and comprehensiveness as wine. At that time, no similar 100-point scale existed for coffee. The goal from the beginning—and still to this day—is to produce credible, objective reviews of retail roasted coffee to help educate and entertain coffee lovers far and wide and inform them of top-quality coffee being procured by some of the best specialty coffee roasters around the globe.

Coffee Review employs a blind cupping that is an honest and mindful sensory observation of each coffee to be reviewed. Their approach is based on the methods and standards of what the global specialty coffee industry as a whole has agreed upon and uses daily to rate and critique coffee, including the SCA (Specialty Coffee Association) and the Cup of Excellence.

Coffee Review grades coffee based upon fragrance/aroma, flavor, aftertaste, acidity, body, balance, sweetness, cup “clarity”, consistency from cup to cup, and overall impression (the cupper’s only opportunity to give a personal, objective opinion).

The Coffee Review Rating System Currently Calibrates Roughly Like This:

85/86 = An acceptable coffee, but nothing exceptional — the best high-end supermarket whole bean, for example

87-88 = An interesting coffee but either 1) distinctive yet mildly flawed, or 2) solid but not exciting

89-90 = A very good coffee, drinkable, with considerable distinction and interest

91-92 = An exceptional, solid coffee with some excitement and distinction in aroma and flavor – or a super-exceptional coffee that still perhaps has some issue that some consumers may object to but others will love – a big, slightly imbalanced acidity, for example, or an overly lush fruit

93-94 = Exceptional originality, beauty, individuality and distinction, with no negative issues whatsoever

95-96 = Perfect in structure, flawless, and shockingly distinctive and beautiful

97+ = Means: “We have not tasted a coffee of this style as splendid as this one for a long, long time”

Cafe Virtuoso Coffees and Coffee Review

We believe submitting our coffee to Coffee Review provides a valuable third-party opinion that is a great asset for our customers to use in the decision-making process when purchasing our coffee, similarly as it does for individuals who are looking for advice on the best wines.

Since the coffee is reviewed blind, organic/fair trade coffee (which is the only kind of coffee we offer) is not taken into consideration when being scored, however, these coffees typically score higher in general due to their relative quality. Not all of our coffees are submitted to be reviewed, even though we feel that our unrated coffees are the same level of quality as our rated coffee, as it’s not practical to send in every coffee we offer due to the cost of each review submission.

If you have any more questions about Coffee Review or any of our coffees we offer, please feel free to stop by our cafe to chat or contact us here.

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Savannah Phillips

Quality Control
A Level-Two Certified Barista, native Northwesterner turned So-Cal girl, Savannah is also addicted to yoga, hiking, meditation and long drives up Coast Highway 101. She doesn’t remember ever not loving coffee. Even as a child, when most other kids typically hate the taste, it was something she craved, which looking back, was unquestionably an early prediction of a career devoted to specialty coffee.

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