CQI entered 2020 with several projects at origin, in partnership with funding partners. Beginning in February 2020, as Wuhan, China went into full lockdown, we started to feel the painful impact of COVID 19 on our plans to deliver our educational programs to coffee producers and those involved in the production side of the supply chain. Not only did travel for staff, volunteers and consultants became nearly impossible, but getting people together for group trainings became risky. We produced safety and health protocols for those able to continue teaching on projects and elsewhere.
We adapted the traditional CQI style training to the new reality. Our origin partners have been fantastic allies in enabling CQI to continue to be present and an asset for coffee producers. Here is how we have adapted:
Our in-country coordinator Feven Genene has been our eyes and ears in Addis Ababa, along with Feed the Future VCA staff. We will resume sensory training (called Jr. Cupper in the context of this project) for students at Jimma University, using newly trained CQI cupping instructors within Ethiopia. It is our hope that we’ll be back in early 2021 with more sensory training and to offer a Q Grader, retakes, and calibration.
Life and coffee in Ethiopia
Despite the COVID and political unrest in Ethiopia, the country was able to export 270 tons of coffee to sixty destinations earning $854,000,000 of the target 1 billion during the year 2019/2020. This is an increase of 17% in volume and 12% in income from the 2018/2019 year. Ethiopia holding the Cup of Excellence for the first time in March 2020 played a big role in motivating the coffee sector and in creating an increase in price.
Feven Genene, Ethiopia Project coordinator
Working with Winrock International and funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, our newest origin project, Creating Linkages for Expanding Agricultural Networks (CLEAN) started at the beginning of 2020 and was immediately impacted and modified for the new global reality. We were able to complete an in-person primary coffee sector assessment in March and then two rounds of coffee evaluations in the United States. Based on the cupping results, CQI hosted a hosted a live ‘virtual tasting’ called A Taste of Laos. The purpose of this activity was to introduce key US-based private sector actors to Lao specialty coffee. Originally this debut was intended to be an invitation-only event at a specialty coffee tradeshow in the USA - this virtual tasting event achieved the same purpose of introducing green buyers and key influencers to this “new origin.”
Christopher Feren from Phoenix Coffee Roasters in Ohio, USA remarked after the event,
I enjoyed the experience immensely … It's an incredible way to involve cuppers from all over the world and introduce new producers, many of whom are unable to travel otherwise. And my curiosity is certainly piqued, and I look forward to the opportunity to explore the region in the future. The coffees were delicious as well =)
As the Philippines has endured long lockdowns and the spread of COVID, PhilCAFE staff have remained hard at work from their home offices. Work there is adapting to remote training for farmers and stakeholders. CQI is currently conducting a comprehensive survey of the private sector to gain an understanding of what they believe R & D priorities should be for the Philippines; these interviews and survey results will help inform and influence the national R & D agenda and be aligned with research and academic capacity. In addition, staff and stakeholders are taking part in CQI’s Processing Essentials on-line course to stay on top of the latest knowledge of coffee processing.
The Processing Essentials course provides a broad overview of post-harvest processing, presenting aspects of the supply chain and the coffee plant before surveying all aspects of post-harvest processing, from harvesting through coffee storage and waste water treatment, including all major processing methods, said Joel Shuler, It provides students with the context of how coffee processing fits into the supply chain, how it has evolved over time, and how it is practiced in different ways and with different technologies throughout the world.