As we approach our May Q Grader course (the most hectic 6-day sensory coffee course on earth, for those that don’t’ know!), we check in with instructor Craig Holt about the benefits of the course, and a bit about specialty coffee in general. No dolphins were harmed in the creation of this interview.
BEYOND PERSONAL SATISFACTION OF GETTING A Q-CERTIFICATE, WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH IT?
- Being a Q Grader is increasingly helpful when looking for work on the quality/buying/trading side of the business. Having “Q Grader” on your CV resonates extremely well with coffee employers.
- You are also approved to be one of the cuppers notified when samples need to be graded for a Q Cert.
- You can communicate coherently/efficiently about quality with producers/vendors/buyers, using a language that has become more or less universal in the coffee trade.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT BECOMING A Q GRADER?
- The Tattoo we ink onto your forehead.
- People find you more physically attractive.
- You smell better.
- In reality, one of my favorite things about it is the opportunity to calibrate with other coffee professionals, and to spend a week gaining valuable perspective on the world of coffee, and your own capacity as a cupper.
IN YOUR OPINION WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE Q GRADER LICENSE TO COFFEE PROFESSIONALS IN COFFEE CONSUMING COUNTRIES?
- As above, it allows growers/exporters to speak a language of quality that is understood by people throughout the supply chain.
- Knowing the quality of their coffee puts the price-discovery opportunity in the hands of growers. This is a quantum leap in terms of empowering growers.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE SPECIALTY COFFEE SCENE IN THE UNITED STATES RIGHT NOW?
- Dolphin Safe
ARE YOU NOTICING ANY NEW TRENDS?
- Honestly, over the last few years there have been several things that were momentarily noisy, but not much of any lasting impact.
- One positive shift – that has been gaining strength for a few years now – is the ongoing growth in fully traceable, sustainably sourced coffee. When I started my company, it was a tiny percentage of the overall trade. These days, sustainability is a mainstream concept. That is good news for growers, and for the long term health of the industry.
WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO EXPERIENCE COFFEE-WISE IN AUSTRALIA?
- Australia has such a great coffee scene, and so many roasters and retailers have become trend setters in the industry. I am just looking forward to checking out as many coffee shops as possible, and learning as much as I can about the coffee business there.
- Also, it’s always great to teach Q Courses, because I get to cup coffee with a group of people who are as geeked out on coffee as I am.
- Having taught courses throughout North, Central, and South America, as well as Europe, Africa, and Australia, I always learn a lot about how folks in other markets react to different coffees.
- Finally, I want to fill a swimming pool in Sydney with perfectly roasted Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, and steep myself in elegant yumminess.