Defect coffee beans - What is excessive?

Discuss roast levels and profiles for espresso, equipment for roasting coffee.

#1: Post by dialydose »

I roasted about 3/4 pound of a new coffee this morning. When I began going through the greens, there seemed (to me) to be an excessive amount of "defect" beans. I would estimate that I took out around 100 beans from the initial look through. This is the most culling I have ever done on a green and it made me think at what point is the amount of defect too much. I would be hesitant to buy this coffee again unless the results in the cup are exceptional. Post roast culling was actually fairly limited, perhaps due to my attention on the beans pre-roast.

I never expect to have a perfect batch of beans sent to me green, but I was little put off by the amount of waste and the amount of time I spent going through the beans. So, does this seem to be excessive?

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#2: Post by another_jim »

It depends on the defect. A single full black or sour ( a wrinkled orange/red or black bean) means the lot is not specialty. But you can have up to 25 bug bitten or chipped beans and still be specialty. The SCAA and CQI have posted all the standards as PDFs.

Then there's the saying from the coffee grading class, "ugly is not a defect."
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dialydose (original poster)

#3: Post by dialydose (original poster) »

another_jim wrote:Then there's the saying from the coffee grading class, "ugly is not a defect."
I likely suffered a little from this as seeing a few bad defects make me really focus in on the beans, but it was still higher than I am used to. I guess the real test will come in a few days when I finally try the coffee.


#4: Post by Nik »

I have about 15 pounds of assorted Yemen green beans on hand. I think a friends description of Yemen beans pretty much fits your description when he stated, "Looks like the have been swept off the floor don't they?"

My first reaction was that they were defects but I have not found any of the bug bitten ones that Jim refers to but if I removed the chips, splits and cracked ones it would remove half the beans. I accept the quality control issue from Yemen because they are processing beans the way they did hundreds of years ago and as the Sweet Maria article on Yemens stated most of their beans go the Mid Eastern countries where quality control is not an issue. I will gladly take what I can get with Yemen beans.

You didn't state the country where your beans came from or where you bought them but I would suggest that you have a conversation with your supplier about them. They may be a lower grade..don't know.


#5: Post by kmills »

Does anyone check for fermented beans using a black light? I saw this on sweet maria's site: I have a UV LED light and noticed a few on a batch I roasted the other day. I picked them out for good measure but I wonder if its necessary.

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#6: Post by another_jim »

Black light is a good way to quickly distinguish part and full sours (badly fermented beans) from those whose chaff is reddish. But this type of sort is done as a matter of course in the Americas and East Africa. Yemen and Ethiopian naturals will always have issues.

I missed that you were "sorting" a Yemen. George Howell has given up on DPs. But before he did, he tried to sort a Yemen Matari. Every time he culled a round of defects, it tasted worse. This persuaded him that the taste of these naturals was entirely made up from defects and therefore hopeless; but for most other people, it means that it is a very bad idea to sort Yemen or DP Ethiopian coffees.

The sort on these coffees can clearly be improved; the spectacular taste of platform dried Sidamo and Yrgacheffe naturals proves that. But culling the grade 5 beans doesn't reproduce this effect.
Jim Schulman


#7: Post by Nik »

You didn't miss anything Jim. I mentioned Yemens, not Jason.

Interesting George Howell's observation and findings about not culling Yemens.

Here is an interesting read about Yemen beans from a Yemen source.

Sorry to get off track on subject.

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#8: Post by cannonfodder »

A lot of those old heirloom coffees look uglier than sin but that is just the nature of the coffee.
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#9: Post by farmroast »

A good wet process I'll consider culling more before roasting. They are easier to sort then and usually am looking for refining a cleaner result. With other artisan processes I only cull anything blackened or really funky looking pre-roast. Then after the first cups consider trying some culling or not.
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#10: Post by Benjammer »

I thought I'd join in, I got a few types of green beans to try home roasting recently and I noticed the Sumatra ones look allot worse than the other two types I got. I have heard they're usually ugly but taste good. I picked out some of ones with weird spots or ones that showed up really bright under a black light.

Is this normal? I'll post some pics :)

I think when I took these I already had taken out some of the uglier ones.

Here's some of the defect ones I took out. yum?

It wasn't from a whole pound just the 130grams or so I took out to be roasted.