Historically, starting in 2002, Colombia was the first significant country where CQI was able to use USAID funding and it’s 501c-3 non-profit status. The project with ACDI/VOCA lasted from 2002 until then end of 2009 in an effort to strengthen the specialty market as an alternative to illegal crops. The incredible organization of the Colombian Coffee Federation (FNC) and the deep coffee culture in the country lead to significant results. Perhaps the most significant product that came out of Colombia was the Q grader program. Before there were Q Instructors around the world, for four years Colombian cuppers would travel to the SCAA office in California to become Q graders and at one point there were over 300 Q Graders in Colombia. CQI's performance has been enriched thanks to alliances established with organizations such as the National Federation of Coffee Growers, SENA and the Specialty Coffee program of the Government of Antioquia during the period of Sergio Fajardo.
Catación Pública developed Pre Q and Q courses during 2015 and 2016. In March, 2016, a Naturals Workshop was also developed in alliance with Catación Pública in Bogotá.
The Naturals Workshop held in Catación Pública by CQI, had support from the National Association of Coffee Exporters, Asoexport and key members from this association attended this course as students. CQI and Asoexport are constantly working collaboratively to enrich key academic events. During 2016, CQI participated as an ally during their event Summit 2016 entitled “Coffee: seed of Colombian reconciliation” in Cartagena.
Moving at an impressive pace, CQI already signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreement (MOU) with Tecnicafé, the first coffee “techno-park” in the world which is being launched near Popayan in 2017 as a mixed public-private project. The main partners are the Cauca Departmental Government, FNC’s Cauca Committee, the Cauca Women’s Producer Group (AMUCC), coffee exporting companies (namely SUPRACAFÉ) and a Spain-based agri-tech company (Multiscan Technologies). CQI has been invited as another partner. The facilities at Tecnicafé include a farm with 150 cultivars, a state-of-the-art processing plant, cupping labs and even a lodge and a restaurant for students. CQI’s main opportunities in this partnership are to offer technical courses for Colombian and international students, and to work with the other partners in education and innovation projects. The technological park is under construction and expected to be concluded mid-2017. As the construction of the park progresses, the main specific activity is the development of the first version of the CQI Processing Certification Course inMarch 2017. Expocafé confirmed its participation as a source of funding for the First version of this course. In addition to the development of the processing course, the next step is to develop a work plan of activities such as Q courses, specific workshops and the development of a coffee-appreciation program for the gastronomy industry.
CQI continues to work closely with the National Coffee Federation, FNC. During 2016, an MOU was signed with the Risaralda Committee in order to bring support to this Committee in their program Profile Diversity - Diversidad de Perfiles. In addition, CQI hosted a Q meeting - led by Executive Director David Roche - as a part of the Expoespeciales event in Bogota, Colombia. There was also a Gender Initiative Report led by Kimberly Easson and Jaime Duque was also a speaker at the event.
Coming up, CQI is signing a 5-year agreement with the National Learning Service of Colombia SENA. However, the process of signing has taken a long time due to political issues. A roasting course for 36 participants at Pitalito, Huila was a first activity with SENA during October 2016 while the agreement is signed for 2017.
Since then, CQI has done specific projects with FNC, including a number of trainings at El Agrado in Quindio, which was lead by Jaime Duque. CQI also just finished a 3 year project with the innovative governor of Antioquia, resulting in a total transformation of the coffee sector in that department. The CQI Colombia office manages any projects in South America and is working with several other Colombia departments and the exporters association. In Colombia, although they are already very advanced, their focus with CQI is in striving to have cutting edge technology and innovative ideas.