Q Success Stories: Newerley Gutierrez

In 2009, Newerley Gutierrez took a Q Arabica course through a grant provided by The Coffee Quality Institute in partnership with ACDI/VOCA and the International Cooperation Agency. Little did he know that this course and certification would save him from a life of war during Colombia’s time of conflict. Newerly recounts his story below:

I was born in the Southern part of the Tolima Department in the Rio Blanco Municipality on a farm called Monteverde. In my youth, I considered taking a military career. I wanted to leave the farm, leave home, go to the air force of my Country - Colombia. but because of the difficult circumstances of that time, I couldn’t do it. Unfortunately public order was a very difficult situation. In my town, the Farc guerrilla impaired and there wasn’t another option besides taking arms with the opposite side in this case in the army or Farc.

Being in that dilemma of wanting to do something - I remember when my mom mentioned one time before if I wanted to return to becoming professional in any area of coffee. In 2009, I had the opportunity, thanks to a special program in the International Cooperation Agency, CQI and ACDI/VOCA in Colombia, I could access a Q Grader certification.

It changed the way I saw the world the day that I could try a cup of coffee and identify it. That was maybe the first cupping. I understood that there were cups that were different than others. I don’t remember at the moment if it was because of roasting or because they were different coffees. I understood that I could learn. That it was time for me to study obviously. But it came easy to me to differentiate the quality of the coffees. It motivated me a lot. I remember it motivated me a lot because I thought that in that way, I could be useful to my family, to my father, to our farm, and to other farms belonging to many other coffee producing friends in the region.

Yes it’s sad, my neighborhood friends were friends from farms close to mine and those friends from farms nearby took one of the paths I mentioned; guerilla or army and both of them had a bad ending. I remember that from my graduation in my school, a few of them are alive because they were killed and the war took their lives many years ago.

I’ve seen other cases, very close to my family. You only need to look at the cases of my neighbors, of my friends, of my school, that aren’t here anymore. They tell me that coffee probably saved my life. And if that’s the case then I’m happy, perfect. Now I want it to save many more lives, right? In this country during this transition of this conflict.

Being a Q Grader opened many doors for me and I could later be in many exporting companies and today I am very thankful for the CQI for coming to countries like Colombia and be able to certify this beautiful profession that is the cupping of coffee.


In 2017, Newerley attended the first ever Q Processing Level 2 course at TECNiCAFÉ in Colombia and became one of the first Q Processing Professionals. We are very proud of him and hope that we can hear many other stories like these from other Q Graders and Processing Professionals.

Do you have a story to share about how the Q Grader program has positively impacted your life? Please share with us at info@coffeeinstitute.org.

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