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[궁굼하면 찾아보는 커피백과사전] 정의편(6) 커피등급

커피에도 등급이 있다는 사실 알고 계셨나요? 올 해 이슈가 많이 되었던 ‘스페셜티’라는 말 역시 커피 등급을 표현한 것인데요. 커피 등급은 생각보다 다양하게 분류되고 있지만 그 기준을 정확이 알고 있는 사람들은 많지 않습니다. 그래서 SCAA기준에 따라 분류되는 커피 등급의 종류와 기준에 대해서 알아봤습니다.


미국스페셜티커피협회(SCAA) 산하 커피품질연구소(C.Q.I)에서 인증을 받은 전문가를 큐그레이더(Q-grader)라고 한다. 커피 산지라면 어디든 C.Q.I가 있는데 커피농장에서는 이곳으로 커피를 보내 감별을 받는다. SCAA기준에 따라 100점 만점에 몇 점을 받았는지에 따라서 높은 등급부터 낮은 등급으로 구분된다.

80점 이상을 받은 커피가 ‘스페셜티’등급을 받는다. 스페셜티커피라는 말은 ‘Special geograpic microclimates produce beans with unique flavor prdfiles(특별한 지리 조건 기상조건이 독특한 향기를 가진 생두를 길러낸다)’라는 뜻으로  1978년 프랑스 커피 국제 회의에서 Ema Knutsen 여사가 처음 사용하였다고 한다. 스페셜티커피는 생산농장과 품종이 분명해야하고, 수확부터 가공과정까지 세밀하게 기록되어 있어야 하며, 개성 있는 풍미가 두드러지고 우수한 커피가 받을 수 있는 등급이다.

하지만 커머셜이라고 해서 전부 똑같이 품질이 좋지 않은 것은 아니다. 75~79점은 ‘프리미엄’으로 스페셜티보다 한단계 낮은 등급의 커피이다. 그보다 한 단계 더 낮은 커피를 70~74점은 ‘하이커머셜’이라는 등급으로 구분한다. 프리미엄과 하이커머셜은 스페셜티만큼 비싸지는 않으면서 일반적인 커머셜에 비해 품질과 향미가 나쁘지 않아 카페에서 많이 사용되고 있다.

70점 이하의 점수를 받은 커피가 일반적으로 가장 많이 소비되는 ‘커머셜’이다. 레귤러커피, 커먼커피 등으로도 불린다. 하이커머셜보다 품질과 향미가 떨어지지만 가격이 저렴하여 인스턴트커피처럼 대량생산 할 때 주로 사용된다

최근 많은 커피매니아들이 찾는 ‘나인티플러스(Ninety Plus)’라는 커피는 스페셜티 커피 중에서도 90점 이상의 점수를 받은 커피를 의미한다. COE에서도 1위~2위를 다툴 만큼 품질이 우수하고 풍부한 향미를 가지고 있다. COE란 ‘Cup of Ewcellence’라는 의미를 가진 세계커피품질대회이다. 총 5번의 엄격한 심사를 통해 85점 이상의 점수를 받은 커피들이 순위에 올라 옥션에서 거래된다.

또한 커피 등급의 표현 중 ‘마이크로 랏(Micro Lot)’이란 스페셜티커피의 일종으로 아주 작은 단위의 공간에서 생산된 고품질의 커피를 의미한다. 즉, 보다 더 우수한 품질의 커피를 생산하기 위해 특별히 구획된 공간에서 특별 관리를 통해 생산한 커피를 말한다.

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