Meet Bruce Bria, the Guy Who Tastes Our Coffee Before You Do

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We have a saying around Royal Cup: "It is not the some of us, but the sum of us who make the difference". That being said, we love to feature the different faces around Royal Cup in our monthly employee spotlight, which we call The Sum of Us. This month we talk with our Quality Assurance manager, Bruce Bria. It's Bruce's job to make sure that we provide the best quality of coffee to our customers -- he tries every coffee that's roasted in our facility, and his palate can spot a defect from a mile away.

Get to know Bruce Bria more in our interview with him below!

Describe your typical work day.

I begin my day by setting up a "cupping" (read: tasting) of coffee that was roasted the previous afternoon. Coffee should be allowed to rest for several hours before tasting to give the different attributes time to fully develop. Once the cupping table is set, I’ll assemble the team to conduct the tasting. We’ll try between six and 10 samples. Once we have completed the cupping, we will discuss our findings and I’ll then make the decision to accept or reject any samples in question.

I’ll enter the information from our findings into our computer for tracking purposes and to begin the purchasing process. Once the cupping is complete, the next day’s samples will begin to arrive, and I’ll perform a visible evaluation and test the moisture of each sample. The samples are then roasted and allowed to sit until the next day’s cupping.

You’re Q-Grade certified. What does that mean, exactly?

A Q Grader is an individual who is credentialed by the CQI (Coffee Quality Institute) to grade and score coffees utilizing standards developed by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA). The certification consists of 22 tests designed to indicate an individual’s ability to accurately and consistently cup and grade coffee. The process takes one week to complete, and not everyone passes this certification on their first attempt.

What is your favorite Royal Cup product?

Our European Gourmet -- it delivers great balance and complexity in each cup. (You can purchase our European Gourmet coffee here). 

What do you taste for when coffees come to you?

Sweetness, acidity, body, aroma, balance, complexity, and flavor.

How much coffee do you drink in a day?

My co-workers find this very funny, but I am not that person that walks into the office each day and has to have a cup of coffee to get started. I do enjoy tasting coffee and especially discussing my findings with others. People may say that I am a “coffee geek” of sorts.

What’s the best part of your job?

In the coffee world, I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people from different countries. It’s fascinating to visit with them and listen to stories from their country about the issues that they face and how they have overcome a lot of these issues. I would have to say that meeting the people within the coffee-producing countries is my favorite part of my job.