A gift from Mohamed Moledina

When Coffee Quality Institute receives donations, they are welcomed and put to work, but sometimes we get one from a patron that stands out. That is the case with the recent support from Mohamed Moledina. Mr. Moledina was one of the founders of Coffee Quality Institute, so his assistance twenty years later is particularly validating.

Mohamed Moledina was born in Mombasa, Kenya, completed his education in the United Kingdom, and returned to join his family’s coffee exporting business. In the early 80s, Mr. Moledina moved to Los Angeles and founded Moledina Commodities Inc. He first imported Kenyan coffee into the American specialty market and was the first coffee importer/trader.

to introduce US roaster customers to “Kenya AA Plus” and offered his customers the option of buying directly from the Kenya coffee auctions. Before the Q grading system was in place and before Cup of Excellence, Mr. Moledina had access to “buying the best of the best” directly for quality conscious roasters who wanted the absolute finest quality coffees. For example, he was able to purchase and pay the highest price recorded in the history of Kenyan auction on behalf of his customer. The higher price premiums also incentivized Kenyan farmers to grow and produce the best possible qualities for the U.S. Market. The premium for quality was the seed of what Coffee Quality Institute would become.

With this industry expertise it was no surprise that Mr. Moledina was nominated for and elected to the Specialty Coffee Association of America Board of Directors, on which he served from 1994-1996. It was during this period that he served as a Chairman of the Long Range Planning Committee, and that is what eventually led to the formation of the Coffee Quality Institute.

“With my background in the producing country, I was determined to improve the quality and educational facilities in the producing countries and at the same time give a bigger voice to the producers within the industry. The rest of my committee was mainly from the consuming sector of the industry. After a lot of brainstorming meetings, we in the LRPC realized there was no common understanding of what “quality” was between exporters and importers. Exporters would look at the physical green coffee, and look for defects etc. And importers would roast the coffee and look for taste. The industry needed a common language. The Long Range Planning Committee realized this and suggested the best way for the exporters and importers to come to a common understanding of what “quality” was to make cupping of coffee as a common denominator. And thus, we proposed to the Board of Directors of SCAA that we needed to establish a separate entity that would be able to develop guidelines for cupping protocols and for additional research and technology for specialty coffee separately from the SCAA.”

At the Joint Board & Committee meeting in Minneapolis in September 1995, on behalf of the Long Range Planning Committee, Mr. Moledina recommended the formation of CQI’s precursor, Specialty Coffee Institute.  This was officially established in January 1996 and he was elected as one of the founding Trustees. Mr. Moledina served as a Trustee till June 1998. In 2006, he, along with Ted Lingle and Doug Carpenter, was recognized as one of the founding Trustees at a special ceremony commemorating CQI’s 10-year anniversary in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In 2020 Coffee Quality Institute has matured, and now offers Q Processing courses to help producers improve coffee quality as well as Q Grading courses for Arabica and Robusta coffees. Mr. Moledina appreciates the endeavors of education in the above fields and finds it within the goals he envisioned twenty years ago. CQI appreciates his support today as well as his vision many years ago.