Brazil Coffee Defect Images

Images of typical Brazil coffees defects culled from a sample brought back from Minas Gerais.

The bane of quality coffee is defect beans, even though the presence of some defects doesn’t necessarily ruin the cup quality, as the absence of defects doesn’t mean the coffee will taste great.

Is that confusing? I can clarify a bit: some defects, usually rated under the heading “primary defects” in the coffee grading system have a huge bearing on the cup taste. In fact the whole system is based on the fact that the black bean, the first image below, equals 1 full point defect, and everything else is rated against the -1 increment of the black bean.

And yes, the black bean is bad. That’s why it is also called a “stinker” bean. It imparts a nasty phenolic flavor in the cup. One black bean in a cupping cup and you will gag. It’s awful.

At the same time, a “golden bean” considered a secondary defect, has a slight woody aspect in the cup. Blend a golden bean into a test cup and you might have trouble detecting it. Brew a cup with 100% golden beans and it would be great, but wouldn’t be terrible either.

In the case of organic certified Brazil, it is sadly, facing a full-on assault of insect, fungus, and poor nutrition. And on top of that, grown at 900 meters. I won’t name this specific lot of coffee, but needless to say we were disappointed in the preparation and downgraded the review.

Amazingly, if the roaster had culled it before pre-roast, and again for immatures (quakers) post-roast, the cup could end up in the 86 point range.

Some of these defects are common to Brazil coffees of the commercial grades. Others are exacerbated by the lack of nutritional inputs, fungicides and such.

Perhaps there is merit in accepting flaws in coffee, knowing it can be cleaned up by the home roaster, and that we are supporting an organic farm … provided that the farm does well with the price they receive and that it truly covers the cost of lower plant productivity.

This article was originally from 2016, updated 2020

Also see our articles:
Coffee Science – Green Coffee Science and Cup Quality
Kenya Coffee Grades: Exploring the Coffee Grading System
Green Coffee FAQ

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