Sharing Knowledge and Breaking Myths About Processing in Colombia

By: Monica Ramirez Bolek, Regional Operations & Communications Manager


Last month at the 11th edition of the Cafés de Colombia Expo in Bogotá, Colombia, the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation and Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) joined together for a workshop focused on myth-busting ideas about coffee processing. During the morning-long event, Colombian exporters and producers took part in conversations, lectures, and tastings around the relationship between coffee, quality, and processing.

For the participants, learning about processing was a valuable endeavor because it gave them key information on differentiating their coffee. “I am the fourth generation of a coffee family, and we have been doing the same thing in the same way for a long time,” says Juan Pablo Echeverry, manager of Hacienda Venecia in Colombia’s Caldas Department. “I think of it like Colombians were experts in creating a single type of hairstyle and we have had the same cut for so many years. There were many reasons for that, and it was successful at the time, but now we need to be more punk—we need to have a new style, and one that is accepted and valued by consumers. But it is not just about change; it is about developing techniques—science with measurement parameters. These kinds of workshops bring us closer to the methods we need to implement to change that same way of thinking, connecting us more to the world.”

The workshop opened with a myth-busting session by Mario Fernández, Coffee Quality Institute´s technical director. This was followed by a tasting focused on how processing affects flavor, which was led by Hernando Tapasco, Q Processing Instructor and technical leader of the company Café y Procesos. During the closing segment, participants interacted with Felipe Isaza, founder of Coffee Resources and member of CQI’s board of directors, to discuss the commercial perspectives of differentiated coffees by processing.

Milton Monroy, a producer from Finca San Pedro in Colombia’s Tolima Department, said the workshop was very valuable to him. "These activities are good for us coffee growers, as it opens up a lot of opportunities for us to have more products and diversification, and thus to find more customers,” he says. Another workshop attendee, Magnolia González of Olam Agro Colombia, also found value in learning about processing: “We have had experiences with marketing and selling differentiated coffees by processes,” said Magnolia. “We did well, although we had difficulty in pricing. We see that with processing you can take better advantage of raw material and we see the interest of the customers for this type of coffee, but it is necessary for exporters to have more knowledge. We would like to start working more on this topic.”

Another active participant in the workshop was Henry Martínez, director of specialty coffees of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, who remarked on the importance of generating interaction between producers and exporters. “This activity was very important because it allows us to understand how it is a differentiated process and, with this, break many myths. The exchange of experiences between the participants is enriching and allows everyone to go in the same line: find a better price for the producer.”

CQI and the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation plan to continue partnering to create innovate workshop proposals that directly benefit producers. Both organizations were excited to bring this workshop to Cafés de Colombia, one of the most important coffee events in Latin America. This year’s installment received 16,990 attendees, including 103 international buyers.




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