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Post-harvest processing is one of the most important steps in the coffee supply chain, as it plays a crucial role in the development of coffee flavor and quality. By following best practices in processing, producers have a direct avenue to differentiating themselves in a competitive market.
In 2017, CQI launched our Q Processing to professionalize the art of coffee processing and certify the stages of competency for different actors in the supply chain. The program provides a scientific and technical approach to processing coffees that improves quality, discusses good practices, increases competitiveness, reduces risk, and creates a system that can be trusted throughout the supply chain.
Q Processing is offered at three levels: Level 1—Generalist for any coffee professional; Level 2—Professional for coffee pros working regularly with post-harvest processing; and Level 3—Expert that offers more advanced study of processing.
Since the launch of Q Processing, a wide variety of coffee organizations on both sides of the supply chain have seen the value of investing in this program. One such company is S&D Coffee & Tea, the largest coffee and tea manufacturer and supplier to restaurants and convenience stores in America.
In June, S&D supported a group of 25 coffee professionals—including 18 farmers, six agronomists, and one S&D employee—to take the Q Processing Level 2 Course. The training took place at the Tecnicafé campus in Colombia’s Cauca Department and was taught by Q Processing Instructor Hernando Antonio Tapasco.
The participating farmers were part of Raíz Sustainability®, S&D’s sustainable sourcing platform that offers an inclusive approach to small- and medium-sized farmers and provides them a path toward long-term sustainability in three impact areas: social, environmental, and economic.
Over six days, attendees took part in the theoretical-practical Level 2 course that includes lectures, cuppings, and processing practices at the coffee mill. The course covered topics such as general processing knowledge, processing technology, good practices, and quality assurance for the main processing methods, such as natural, honey, and washed.
When the week was over, several of the participants shared their takeaways from the experience, which are collected below. Read more about Q Processing here, and to find out about upcoming classes, email email@example.com.
I was not expecting all the knowledge I received at the course; it exceeded my expectations. I really liked the instructor, and the way he was able to pass along all the information in a clear language. All the practice helped [me] digest the theory, and the location and equipment was very useful. I feel ready to start experimenting with processes, fermenting, and better drying of the coffee I produce at my farm.
—Pedro Antonio Zapata, 50, farmer, Volcafe, Ciudad Bolívar
I had not really received formal training regarding processing, but had already explored some empirical techniques. The course in general was excellent … I learned many new things. I will go to my farm and try repeating what I learned, and I will also teach others the basic principles.
—Ever Manuel Anaya Osorio, 55, farmer, FNC, Abejorral
I already knew a bit of the theory; however, I had not had a chance to contrast theory vs. practice. I liked the hands-on approach, the group activities, and the knowledge I gained from being there. In general, I was very happy with the course. I enjoyed being able to participate, and I hope that in the future I will be able to improve the quality of my coffee. I also enjoyed the traveling, as this was the first time I got on a plane.
—Luz Adriana Henao Ocampo, 34, farmer, FNC, Abejorral
I expected to get information about processing, but I was positively surprised with the content and intensity. I enjoyed the course, despite not sleeping much; I was happy to give that extra effort. The best things [about the course] were having practical exercises and exploring real-life situations, as well as questioning how to do things and exploring other possibilities with colleagues and fellow farmers.
—Marcela Soler, 40, Olam, Armenia (farm in Calarcá)
I had a vague idea of processing but hoped to get more tools and knowledge to support farmers in the clusters. I feel that I accomplished more than I expected. The course was extremely productive; it covered more than just processing and is a very holistic approach to the coffee industry (especially for a producer). Although I would have liked to receive some course material to take with me, I valued everything, including the experience of being there. I will try to pass on all the knowledge I gained.
—Cristina Bolaños, lead agronomist in Raíz, Volcafe/Antioquia, Risaralda
I was able to break some industry myths and discover that farmers have a big impact on the taste of their coffee. The course was great; in fact I would describe it as spectacular! I learned a lot, and I hope to pass on much of this knowledge. It was great to be at Tecnicafé, which offers not only great facilities (labs, equipment, technology, classrooms, and a productive farm) but also very good support in terms of people. CQI has put [together] a great course, and although it is very intensive, I know that is the only way it can work.
—Diego Posada, lead agronomist in Raíz, FNC – RGC, Abejorral, Antioquia
After reading the agenda and having a conversation with Dr. Mario Fernandez (CQI’s Technical Director), I was very interested in the course and knew that it was going to be a special week, but I never imagined we would be doing and learning so much. I was able to discover a part of coffee producing that is not as well known, but is fundamental to the taste of the coffee we drink. We gained so much insight into the world of processing that I felt I needed to share all this with everyone in Raíz. I can see that there is a lot of research behind the course; we received a lot of theory, but it was all given in a familiar context. I hope the farmers can take all of this hard work and translate it into better coffee, which means better quality of life for them and their families. I am very grateful to S&D for letting me take part in this course!
— Esteban Jaramillo, Raíz Coordinator, Medellín, Antioquia
By: Mario Fernández, Technical Director, Coffee Quality Institute
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