York Emporium gets taste for success with second top industry exam qualification

A rare double success has been achieved by artisan coffee roaster, York Emporium, after a second member of staff has passed a rigorous, top-flight industry examination gained by only 95 people in the UK and 6,500 worldwide.

Head roaster and operations manager, Richard Darby, who joined York Emporium, owned by vending machine and refreshments systems company, Upton Group, Selby, in 2016, has passed The Coffee Quality Institute professional examination to become a Q Grader – the coffee industry equivalent of a professional sommelier wine taster – after completing a week-long course and three days of 19 exams in Edinburgh.

All the exams are based around the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) cupping form and range from objectively assessing coffee quality and identifying, quantifying and articulating coffee characteristics to detecting coffee defects and explaining coffee characteristics using industry terminology.

The Q Grader qualification, aims to create a global body of speciality arabica coffee cuppers, able to consistently assess coffee quality as part of the universal Coffee Quality Institute protocol.

Richard Darby, who trained for the Q Grader qualification for more than a year alongside his head roaster role, says: “It’s very rewarding to undertake a career defining challenge after being in the industry for only three years.

“The course is extremely intensive and not to be taken lightly. You cannot pass first time without proper preparation, which, in my case, meant extra hours in the coffee laboratory and after hours on days off, developing new skills, as well as time away from home but in the end it was all worth it.”

Laurence Beardmore, says: “Becoming a Q Grader after only three years in the industry is a fantastic achievement for Richard and demonstrates the enthusiasm and commitment we have developed in the business.

“Very few companies in our industry have one Q Grader, let alone two, and Richard’s success gives us even greater ability to source, develop and produce the product quality that we’re now known for. His achievement also means we can bounce whacky ideas and beautiful blends off each other in the tasting room as we continue to create exciting new coffees for our clients.”