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Very beyond subjectivity: The limit of accuracy of Q‐Graders

Pereira, Lucas Louzada, Guarçoni, Rogério Carvalho, Moreira, Taís Rizzo, de Sousa, Luiz Henrique Bozzi Pimenta, Cardoso, Wilton Soares, Moreli, Aldemar Polonini, da Silva, Samuel Ferreira, ten Caten, Carla Schwengber
Journal of texture studies 2019 v.50 no.2 pp. 172-184
research institutions, sensory evaluation, Brazil
When it comes to the sensory analysis of specialty coffees, it is necessary to discuss the protocol of tests of the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) and the formation of Q‐Graders as reliable parameters in the sensory analysis. However, the training of these Q‐Graders and the use of the SCA protocol has generated discussions in the scientific community and demonstrated the importance of talking about the level of professional precision as well as the use of the protocol. This study sought to understand the relation of accuracy and efficiency of the Q‐Graders and protocol in the sensory analysis of coffees. Three experiments were carried out to evaluate and test the hypotheses regarding the level of precision in relation to the shift, the number of samples and the judgment abilities of Q‐Graders due to the quality of the specialty coffee and nonspecialty coffee. These three experiments were performed by seven Q‐Graders in an isolated environment during three consecutive days with 137 specialty coffee samples and 7 nonspecialty coffee samples as defined by the SCA. The results indicate that the Q‐Graders present high precision when evaluating excellent and outstanding coffees, as defined by the SCA. In addition, the effect of the shift did not exert fatigue on the Q‐Graders. However, evaluation errors were made by the Q‐Graders on very good coffee (77.00–80.00 points), which are considered as nonspecialty by the SCA, thus allowing a more in‐depth discussion on what would be the boundary between a specialty and nonspecialty coffee. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: The article deals with the sensory evaluation process of coffees, and it has great importance to teaching and research institutions in Brazil, the largest producer, largest exporter and the country with the highest concentration of coffee scholars in the world. The article focuses on a new approach and a new way of looking at the sensory evaluation process of coffees, using the methodology of the Specialty Coffee Association to analyze the accuracy and efficiency of the Q‐Graders.