The Strength of Degrees


The Coffee Bean Theory of Gradation

Antero Alli’s book Astrologik offers a unique analogy between the degrees of a sign and the strength of coffee. He calls it The Coffee Bean Theory of Gradation.

  • 0-5 degrees of a sign: the green berry still growing on the stalk
  • 6-10 degrees of a sign: harvested & roasted beans yield a cup of joe
  • 11-15 degrees of a sign: darker roast of the stronger, richer coffees
  • 16-20 degrees of a sign: pressurized distillation of various espressos
  • 21-25 degrees of a sign: dense Turkish-style espresso essences
  • 26-29 degrees of a sign: densest grind of the black residual espresso
  • coffee splash


    What’s the strength of your planets?

    Each set of numbers represents the degrees of a sign. For example, a Sun at 12 degrees Gemini would fall under “darker roast of the stronger, richer coffees.” This means that someone with a 12 degree Gemini Sun would have developed more of the Gemini traits than a 0 degree Gemini Sun, which is just starting off in the sign.

    Alli emphasizes that no set of degrees is “better” than any other; they are simply different stages in a process. Planets in the earliest degrees of a sign have the lightest essence of a sign. Planets in the last degrees have the strongest “brew”- these are planets deeply steeped in the essence of a sign.

    Alli’s idea differs from popular thought that the first degrees of a sign are the strongest. In Alli’s view, those planets at the beginning of a sign are still “green,” meaning that they are inexperienced in that sign’s expression.

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    • Tupelo_Guy

      My Libra Sun (3rd), Saturn in Scorpio (4th), Uranus in Sagittarius (5th) and Gemini in Chiron (11th) are all the green berry still growing on the stalk.

      My Jupiter in Sagittarius (5th) is harvested & roasted beans yield a cup of joe.

      My Gemini Moon (11th) is the darker roast of the stronger, richer coffees.

      Mercury in Virgo (3rd) and True Node in Gemini (11th) are pressurized distillation of various espressos.

      While, my Cancer Ascendant, and Mars and Venus, both in Leo in 2nd house, and Neptune in Sagittarius (6th), and Pluto in Libra (4th) are the densest grind of the black residual espresso.

    • II.II.III.II

      I’m Aquarius ascendant, and I always assumed it was the other way around.

      So, I guess I have more of this sign, than the rest.

      Great to know.

    • Anonymous

      I’m not a huge fan of coffee, I prefer tea! 😛  

      But I liked this metaphoric way of describing the strength of planetary degrees! ;o)

      According to this “system”,

      – my Mercury is “the green berry still growing on the stalk”;
      – the Moon is a “darker roast of the stronger, richer coffees”;
      – my Ascendant is a “pressurized distillation of various espressos”;
      – Venus & Mars are “dense Turkish-style espresso essences”;
      – and the Sun “the densest grind of the black residual espresso”!

      Sounds interesting!

      By the way, Michelle, what is your opinion about the decanates?
      Do you use them in your research, and can you feel some of their influences?

      For example, I found out that my Aquarius Sun is in the decanate of Libra, my Aries Moon – in the decanate of Leo, and my Venus and Mars in Pisces are in the Scorpio decanate…
      I think I can indeed relate to some of the qualities by which these planets are additionally coloured!

      Here’s a link with the table of decanates:

    • Nick Hedge

      I have been working on charts for years as a hobby and I have always been mystified by the degrees and the power they wield. I am in full agreement with this theory. Why? Because if you think about it for a moment it only makes sense. I have done a considerable number of charts where the ascendants were 29 degrees and 0 degrees and the personalities fit to a T with what this person has theorized. I have seen the results and know what he is saying here is true. Truer words have never been spoken on the net where this subject is concerned.

      • Thanks Nick. How do your own planets stack up according to this system?

    • Timushne

      I would disagree. Simply because midpoints of fixed signs, first degrees of cardinals and last degrees of mutables carry more energy. And according to traditional approach, last degrees are anaretic, considered malefic.

      • Thank you for your take Timushne, and thank you for reading.

    • Anonymous

      Sun:26-29: densest grind of the black residual espresso
      Moon:11-15: darker roast of the stronger, richer coffees
      Ascendant:0-5: the green berry still growing on the stalk

      I like this perspective. It’s creative without being too complex. 🙂

      • I like this perspective. It’s creative without being too complex. 🙂
        Yes, I think so too. It’s fun 🙂

        • Anonymous


    • Alli doesn’t mention the essential dignities in his book.

      If the last terms are usually given to Mars or Saturn, perhaps it is because those last degrees require the most effort to to overcome to move into the next sign experience. Maybe they are not as powerful in their ability to act, yet they still have the most saturated experience of the sign.

    • Anonymous

      It looks like he’s trying to give a new spin on an ancient dignity much used in the classical world: the terms. Each sign is divided into 5 terms of 6 degrees and assigned a term ruler. Generally the term ruler of the first term in the sign is a planet with a lot of dignity or affinity with the sign and the term ruler for the last term is almost always Mars or Saturn, because the last term is the least dignified (the most anaretic, or in Alli-speak “the densest grind.”) In the dignity system, a planet in its own term was only given 2 points, so it’s not as powerful as say, being in exaltation.

    • I read something like that recently- that’s it’s preparing for the shift. I kind of think of 29 degree planets as making a last ditch effort to get it right.

    • For me, planet at 29 degree revolt against its own sign and making alliance with new movement from the sign next to it. They are the “destroyer” hehe ^^

    • So you have a mix in your big 3 🙂

    • Zodiacal_macaw_1210

      Lets see, My Sun lands on 18 degree Sagittarius, Moon lands on 7 degree Aquarius and Ascendant lands on 26 degree Sagittarius.

    • Lmao, “I’m definitely conscious of my green berries”! -I love it and it made me crack up.

      I wonder if the strong the drew the less conscious one is of their own flavor, especially if they are so deeply steeped in their own brew.

      That’s a great question. Maybe if you are deeply entrenched in a sign you have less consciousness about being in that state, or the strength of expression of that sign.

    • Anonymous

      Sun & Asc are very strong brew at 26-27 deg. But then I have 4 planets in the green berry area, and 3 in the pressurized distillation category. I wonder if the strong the drew the less conscious one is of their own flavor, especially if they are so deeply steeped in their own brew. I’m definitely conscious of my green berries, because I feel like I have less “control” or understanding of their power/function, or how to use them to the best of their capacity.

    • Yes, that would be the darkest brew- according to Alli. It gets an extra dose of darkness for being in Scorpio and involving Pluto!

    • Anonymous

      right. thanks michelle. will do. i appreciate all your inputs.

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    • Anonymous

      I’m not really sure. My take is that we’re all complex enough to “contain” both tropical and sidereal interpretations.

    • Well, that’s what many astrologers say, that the 0 degree point is more potent. Jjasonham, above, mentions that vedic astrologers believe the later degrees are more potent. I tend to think you need to try everything out for yourself. Maybe, the first degrees are the “purest” but not necessarily the most potent.

    • nt

      What would she say about pluto conjunct north node at 29 and 28 scorpio? The darkest brew? Most of my planets are at te end or beginning of sings.

    • So your planets are basically saturated in their sign expression 😀

      I don’t know that much about vedic astrology yet but this idea makes so much sense to me. I’m very curious about whether the sidereal zodiac is more accurate in interpretation- what do you think? Have you tested it?

    • Anonymous

      this is soooooo interesting!!!! i am lovin your blog each day, promise. i do realized the degrees of my planets till now! surprisingly, they are placed like they belong to a group. sun, venus, mars- all 17 degrees. moon, jupiter, uranus- all 0 degrees. Mercury is in 1 degree so it falls at the first category. the rest different category. i remember reading astrology lessons from bob marks. he mentioned that 0 degree planets are more potent. is this correct? i so love this post! thanks for sharing!

    • Anonymous

      Another thought provoking post. By the way, this school of thought is reinforced in vedic astrology. The coffee gradient has a stronger brew, according to them in the end of a sign. I have a large amount of planets/points in the later degrees of their signs 25 degs and higher. Moon, Venus, Saturn, Neptune, Pluto, Node, MC.