Blog : Qu'est-ce qu'un café grand cru ?

What is a Grand Cru coffee?

Specialty coffee shops and roasters use  complicated words on their packaging labels and it is not always easy to navigate through them. Here we will help you with a  label that you may find on the most expensive coffees at your local roaster: “grand cru” coffees.

Here we will try to explain as best as possible what a grand cru coffee represents and what characteristics differentiate them from other specialty coffees.


To begin with, the name “grand cru coffee” has no fixed definition. This label most often simply represents the best coffees a roaster has to offer. However, if there is no explicit definition there are still a few criteria taken into account to label a coffee a "grand cru". Finding its origins in the wine world, this label designates a rare coffee, from a particular geographical terroir and with unique aromas.

It is also important to note that the "grand cru" label gives no indications on the environmental or social impact of the coffee. If grand cru coffees from Araku are indeed all  Organic and Fair Trade, this is not always the case for other roasters! The “Grand cru” label is above all based on the coffe's taste. 


A grand cru coffee is necessarily a coffee with a unique and traceable origin. Tasting a grand cru coffee means tasting an origin, a specific terroir! Some grand crus can come from very specific plots within a larger farm, others can be produced by a single estate or even a single family. Altitude, soil, exposure to the sun, harvest method, all these factors influence the aromas obtained in the cup. The plots with the best conditions are therefore specially chosen to obtain "grand cru" coffees.

This meticulously chosen terroir results in a unique taste experience. When tasting a "grand cru", expect complex and subtle aromas. These aromas are unique to the plots of land from which the coffee originates. For example, with our Grand Cru Grande Reserve you will have superb notes of red fruits, vanilla and caramel.


An indicator that brings together all the previous criteria is the SCA (or Specialty Coffee Association) rating. All coffees are graded with the same standards and rated between 0 and 100. Coffees are judged according to 10 taste criteria (smell, aroma, aftertaste, acidity, body, uniformity, balance, purity, sweetness and general impression) and on the lack of visible impurities and flaws.

For a coffee to be considered “specialty” it must be rated at least 80. All Araku coffees are rated at least 85, which already classifies them all as exceptional coffees. We consider a coffee obtaining an SCA score of 87 or higher to be a grand cru. Our Micro-lot , our Grande Reserve and our Haute Altitude are grand crus with scores above 87.

Grands crus represent a very small part of the coffee available on the market. Only a very small part of the world's specialty coffee production obtains scores above 87. So let yourself be tempted by the unique experience of a grand cru specialty coffee!

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