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Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) first launched the Q Program in 2003 with the hopes of training more producers to understand and identify quality. This filled a vacuum in the market, and interest grew quickly. Today, we have over 6,000 Q Arabica and Q Robusta Graders around the world, and Q Processing was launched last year to provide a more technical approach to processing coffee. We already have over 200 Q Processing Professionals and counting.
However, the Q Program doesn’t revolve solely around training; rather, it’s just one part of a larger system. Q Arabica Graders and Q Robusta Graders have additional opportunities to grade coffee outside of their respective companies, known as a Q Evaluation. The Q Program is dependent on our In-Country Partners (ICPs) to facilitate Q Evaluations around the world. Each evaluation must take place in the ICP’s cupping laboratory, which has been pre-screened and meets requirements set forth by CQI.
Further, the partners agree to follow CQI’s protocols to uphold integrity in the process from start to finish. When a green coffee sample arrives at an ICP, it is assigned to three local Q Arabica or Q Robusta Graders, who conduct a blind evaluation and submit a report. The scores are averaged, and coffees that meet the standards for green, roasted, and cup quality are issued a Q Certificate. If a coffee does not meet Q standards, it receives a CQI Technical Report. Click here to see a list of current Q Coffees™. These evaluations provide an independent review of quality that is unmatched in the industry. Further, the final report provides detailed feedback about green defects and includes cupper notes, which can help improve the coffee in upcoming harvests or provide marketing leverage for the current harvest.
ICPs are vital to CQI's infrastructure. In 2017, our ICPs conducted nearly 150 Q Evaluations from 35 coffee origins. Additionally, these partners provide many additional opportunities for active Q Arabica and Q Robusta Graders to recalibrate and offer courses for new and aspiring cuppers in the supply chain. We now have 23 Arabica ICPs in 21 countries, as we've had to expand the number of ICPs within each country based on demand and constraints. As the program evolves, we are looking at new ways to support our partners and overcome hurdles specific to certain origins. We're grateful to our partners for their ongoing dedication to our program—their support enables us to expand our reach and better communicate quality to producers around the world.
If you are interested in getting in touch with an ICP in your area to take a course or get a coffee evaluated, feel free to reach out here.
By: Alexandra Katona-Carroll
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