Defect coffee often consists of “quakers”, which are typically identified by their light colour due to lack of the sugars in the unroasted bean. During the roasting process, coffee turns darker mostly due to the sugars in the seed, so quakers are generally indicate that they could taste like peanut husks.

Other defects such as broken or chipped coffee beans, shells (looks like a little elephant ear or a hollowed out seed), usually taste acceptable, though may have responded to heat in a different way during the roasting process, rendering them darker due to more exposure to heat. You can typically detect this with some extra roastiness or bitterness.

What causes the defects?

Coffees defects can occur at any given point of the supply chain. Defects are generally quite obvious based on appearance, though sometimes it can also be hard to identify as they can be on the inside of the bean. Sometimes they taste strongly defective (like plastic, chemicals, burnt rubber, phenol), usually they taste like peanuts or peanut husks, and sometimes they can also just taste normal and fine!

The presence of these defects are typically not correlated with a roastery’s quality control or standards. These are simply a result of exportable quality standards, which can get quite murky when you look at the supply chain as a whole and how much coffee really gets exported and moved around in the world!

The defect sample in Issue #9

It’s one thing to talk about how little variables can result in a bad cup, but we’re here for some educational fun to do a side by side comparison!

The 5g baggie of beans are defective beans, sorted out using Rosso Coffee Roaster’s SOVDA machine. We intentionally requested Rosso to send us some of their defective, rejected beans, just so we could have a fun tasting.

Rosso has not only one SOVDA, but two, to ensure the best cup possible. The two serve different purposes - one is for green coffee sorting before it gets funnelled into the roasting drum, and the other is for post-roast sorting. Rosso told us that they are the only roastery in the world that has the first SOVDA, green sorting before roasting. And they are also one of only dozens of roasters around the world that also uses a SOVDA post-roast sorting machine.

These defective beans were combined from their offerings from these past few weeks. One thing you might be wondering is: why does Rosso have so many defects from their high quality speciality coffee? We’ll bust the myth here: all speciality coffee actually still has defects, up to a certain amount, and is practically an inevitability!

how to taste them

As you brew your coffee, whenever you feel inclined to taste what this is like, please use 5g of these defects in place of your regular coffee. For example, if you brew a 20g pourover, try using 15g from your Roasters Pack bag, and then 5g from this tiny baggie. If you’re able to, brew another same coffee with 20g from the bag, and then compare them!

Remember to note the changes, and feel free to send us your feedback or tag us on Instagram on how your experience was!

August 24, 2023 — Zara Snitman

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