get certified by the Coffee Quality Institute

Q Grader Course

Want to become a licensed Q grader? Take this highly intensive prep course followed by the challenging Q exam. Unless indicated differently, all Q courses and exams are presented and administered by Q Arabica Instructor Willem Boot. 

Boot Coffee is the only campus in the industry that provides personalized coaching for each of the Q students. During each day of the course, the lead trainer Willem Boot, reviews your progress and your specific questions and needs. In this way you can take advantage of three personal sessions before the start of the examinations. We have found this approach to be highly effective for our relatively high success rates at the Q course.

We are very proud that with our supplementary add-on programs and new systems we increased our passing rate to 50-90% per course. 

When the CQI (Coffee Quality Institute) created the most renowned certification for coffee cuppers, Q Graders, it created a demanding professional certification that filled a vacuum in the market when it launched in 2003.

The Q grader certification program was launched in 2003 by The Coffee Quality Institute (CQI). Since the inception of this intensive training and examination program, thousands of coffee professionals around the world have become certified as Q grader.

Since its introduction, grading and cupping protocols around the world have become much more standardized.

The professional accreditation of Q graders has created a league of coffee cuppers around the world who apply uniform procedures to the evaluation of physical and sensory attributes of coffee samples.

The Q certification program consists of a 3-day course, followed by a 3-day examination marathon comprising of 19 tests which feature the following elements:

  • Sensory Skills Test (2 tests). Subjects must identify three (3) intensities of salt, sour and sweet odorless solutions. This is first done individually, then when combined in mixtures.
  • Cupping Skills Tests (4 tests). Subjects cup and score four (4) flights of six (6) samples.
  • Olfactory Skills Tests (4 tests in 2 parts). The objective of this test is to evaluate an individual’s ability to recognize thirty six (36) common aromatic scents often found in the fragrance and aroma or nose (le nez) of coffee. Subjects must first match six (6) among nine (9) blind pairs, then identify three (3) specified vials of scents for each of four (4) groups
  • Triangulation Skills Tests (4 tests). Triangulation tests measure the ability to differentiate coffees by flavor unique attributes associated with each region.
  • Organic Acids Matching Pairs (1 test). Subjects are evaluated on their ability to identify four (4) of the more common acids found in coffee: acetic acid, malic acid, phosphoric acid and citric acid.
  • Arabica Green Coffee Grading (1 test). Participants grade three (3) 350g green Arabica coffee samples.
  • Arabica Roasted Coffee Grading (1 test). Participants must correctly identify the number of roast defects found in one (1) 100g roasted coffee sample.
  • Roasted Sample Identification (1 test). The goal of the test is to measure an individual’s knowledge of the SCAA cupping protocol roasting instructions. Possible incorrect samples are: a) Under-roasted, b) Baked, c) Over-roasted or d) Under-developed.
  • General Coffee Knowledge (1 test). A multiple choice exam of 100 questions on coffee cupping and grading, roasting, brewing, cultivation, harvesting and processing.

The Q grader certification is valid for 3 years, after which the Q grader is required to pass a calibration to extend their certification for another 3 years. The calibration consists of 3 cupping trials.

Completing the Q is a challenging but very rewarding experience! If you fail one or more tests, you do not need to retake the entire course but you can retake those tests only. Usually you can take up to 2 retakes per failed test during the examination course. Subsequently, there’s the opportunity to take retakes at later Q courses.

This intensive program consists of 3 days training and 3 days examination. Each day will commence at 8:30 AM and will finish around 5:00 PM.

The majority of the sixth day is reserved for taking retakes of tests as necessary.

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FREE - Online Preparation Course

Our goal is to provide you with maximum support to become a Q Grader. In 2022 we will provide you with a tool to pass the Q Grader exam by practicing and learning ahead with our online course package.  This one is on us!

(reg. $349.90)

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    These Q Grader course requires minimum seats in order to be held, therefore canceling the course would mean preventing other students from attending.

    You can cancel or reschedule 60 days before the course for free.

    After this period you can reschedule or get a refund minus 20% free of the cost of the purchased course up to 14 days before the course when rescheduling or cancellations are not possible. 

    EXCEPTION: If you test positive for COVID 19 at any time before or during the course, we will reschedule you for FREE. We will require an official PCR test to do so. Sorry. No home tests, or rapid tests are accepted, only a PCR test will do. If you test positive during the course at our lab no PCR is required.

    Where is the Coffee Training Centre?

    The course will be at the BOOT COFFEE CAMPUS at 619 Lindaro Street, San Rafael, CA (just north of San Francisco).

    When Does the Coffee Roasting Course Start?

    Our courses typically begin at 9 am each morning and finish each day between 5 and 7 pm depending on the progress of students in each course.

    How Can I Get More Information?

    Contact Us via Email:


    Call Us: (888) 814-4347

    Is Lunch Included?

    We provide 1h lunch break, light snacks and drinks through the duration of the course. Students are responsible to provide their own lunch.