In the specialty coffee production process, one of the important stages that coffee beans must go through is defect value testing based on SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) standards.

In the standards applied by SCAA, one of the requirements for specialty coffee is that there must be no primary defects in the coffee beans.

Examples of primary defects are full black, full sour, dried cherry, fungus damaged, foreign matter, and severe insect damage.

primary defect in coffee beans
The Green Arabica Coffee Classification System is also referred to as the Green Defect Poster. (Source: )

In this article, we will first discuss three examples of primary defects in coffee beans. What are they? Let’s take a look at the discussion below.

Full Black

One of the coffee bean defects classified as a primary defect is full black. This defect is characterized by the outside of the coffee beans being shiny black and wrinkled.

Full black usually occurs due to lack of water supply, lack of nutrients, or the appearance of mold during the growth process of the coffee plant.

In coffee beans classified as full black, the flavors that appear usually become dirty, moldy, sour phenolic, or stinker. The off-flavor that appears in these coffee beans certainly reduces the quality level of the coffee itself.

With specialty coffee, keep in mind that 1 full black counts as 1 full defect. Therefore, it is very important for farmers to maintain the quality of coffee, starting from the planting stage to the processing of the coffee itself.

Farmers or processors should, for example, avoid picking overripe coffee cherries that do not come directly from the coffee tree. Farmers should also avoid over-fermentation to avoid off-flavors in coffee from microorganisms.

Coffee beans classified as full black can also be avoided by properly separating the horn skin. At this stage, horn skin separation can be done for example manually(hand sorting) or mechanically using a color sorting machine.

Read also: Thoroughly Review 3 Examples of (Other) Primary Defects in Coffee Beans [Part 2]

Full sour

The defect score also categorizes full sour as part of the primary defect, where 1 score is equivalent to 1 full defect.

Full sour is characterized by the light brown to dark brown color of the coffee beans.

primary defect in coffee beans
Full sour has an influence on the sensation of sour or stinker flavor in coffee.

There are several reasons that can make coffee beans classified as full sour, from the coffee harvesting factor for example. Overripe and indirect picking of coffee cherries from the tree also puts the beans into the full sour category.

During processing, contaminated water, dirty fermetation containers, or microbials during fermentation also turn coffee beans into full sour.

To prevent these possibilities, coffee farmers can take various precautions such as by avoiding planting coffee in low-lying areas near lakes or by avoiding picking overripe coffee cherries that are on the ground.

Farmers or processors should also pay attention to other aspects such as the timing of the pulping process (must be done immediately after harvest unless using natural processes), the length of fermentation time, and also the level of cleanliness of water and coffee containers at the processing stage.

It is also necessary to ensure that at the roasting stage, there is no full sour mixed with other beans. This can have a major effect on the acidity level of other coffee beans.

Fungus Damage

The next primary defect can also be found in coffee beans that fall into the fungus damage category. Fungus damage or moldy coffee beans are generally recognized by reddish-yellow spots on the surface of the coffee beans.

Fungus damages often occur due to the growth factors of Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Fusarium genus in coffee beans. This type of mold can grow due to high levels of humidity and temperature during the coffee harvesting and storage process.

primary defect in coffee beans
In addition to the reasons for mold growth, fungus damage can also specifically occur due to the factor of picking coffee cherries that are already on the ground, the factor of fermentation for too long, or due to interference during the coffee drying process.

In terms of taste, fungus damage usually results in the appearance of off-flavors such as moldy, dirty, and earthy in coffee. Fungus damage also has its own impact on the loss of flavor and aroma characteristics of coffee or even brings health risks to the drinker.

To prevent this, several things ranging from coffee cherry picking, sorting process, fermentation process, temperature and humidity levels, and coffee drying process are crucial to be considered by coffee farmers and processors.

Whether full black, full sour, or fungus damage in this case can be categorized as a primary defect because its presence will only give off-flavor to the coffee.

So, it is important for farmers to pay attention to the development of coffee beans from the time the coffee is grown to the time it is processed into coffee beans. It is all to avoid the possibility of coffee beans classified as primary defects and of course to improve the quality of the coffee itself.

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