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CQI Expands Programming in Colombia by Partnering With TECNiCAFE
In 2018, The Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) joined forces with Colombia-based Parque Tecnológico de Innovación del Café (Technological Innovation Park), known as TECNiCAFÉ for short.
TECNiCAFÉ is an innovation-minded institution focused on fostering entrepreneurship and business acumen to add value to coffee and coffee production. TECNiCAFÉ’s facilities—located in Colombia’s Cauca Department—include a range of production, processing, and quality-analysis equipment, as well as lodging space.
Through the partnership with TECNiCAFÉ, CQI will offer a range of Q courses at the park for both local and international coffee professionals. These courses will include offerings from Q Processing, a new program providing training in processing to improve coffee quality.
TECNiCAFÉ was created by the Government of Cauca through funds from the General System of Royalties SGR. The park also received important contributions from partners such as the Gobernación del Cauca, Supracafé, the National Federation of Coffee Growers (FNC), Multiscan, and the Association of Women Coffee Growers of the Cauca (AMUCC).
TECNiCAFÉ is the result of many organizations collaborating to create a venue for fostering coffee knowledge. CQI interviewed several of these partners about why they support TECNiCAFÉ and their thoughts on the park’s new partnership with CQI:
Ricardo Oteros, chairman, Supracafé:
Q: How did the idea of creating TECNiCAFE come about?
A: The idea began with Supracafé, which had been developing a sustainability-focused project for the production of high-quality coffees in Cauca since 2008. In collaboration with some research groups from Cauca University, we thought there was an excellent opportunity to propose an innovation project supported by the General System of Royalties SGR. Our proposal was based on this quote: "Without innovation, there is no progress.
We got down to work and shared our idea with the Government of Cauca, FNC’s Committee of Cauca Coffee Growers, the Association of Women Coffee Growers of Cauca, and the high technology company Multiscan. This proposal led to the creation of a public-private corporation whose main objective was the generation of value for the coffee community. TECNiCAFÉ emerged as a commitment to integral sustainability, thinking about people and the environment through an open and collaborative innovation model.
Q: What does the park represent for the coffee sector in Colombia and internationally?
A: The objective of TECNiCAFÉ is to become a global reference for the development of sustainable, high-quality coffee. Being very ambitious, we intend it to become a “Silicon Valley” of coffee. If TECNiCAFÉ complies with these objectives, always keeping sustainability and social development in focus for innovation, it can help to decisively improve the way in which coffee is produced and create more value. This increased value is especially necessary in the first links of the coffee production chain, which are most in need of improved technology and which present the greatest social and environmental challenges. To adequately meet these objectives, we will need the participation of all actors in the chain, especially roasters, baristas, and coffee consumers.
Q: What do you think we should keep in mind when we talk about innovation in the specialty coffee sector?
A: When we observe how other great agricultural products of gastronomy have evolved around the world, such as wine or olive oil, we realize that the generation of value has always been related to innovation and the application of technology, aiming for quality, competitiveness, and respect for the environment.
A simple comparison between how high-quality coffees are produced and processed compared to high-quality wines helps us realize that there is an immense field of action and application of technology in the world of coffee. Just as harvesting, ripening, fruit processing, fermentation systems, and storage are key in the production of high-quality wines or oils, they are also important in the case of coffee. Therefore, we will need to develop and apply all kinds of innovations in the service of sustainable production of high-quality coffees that will affect the systems of cultivation, harvesting, maturation control, on-farm processes, fermentation, and more.
Q: What are your expectations regarding the recent inclusion of CQI as a partner of TECNiCAFÉ?
A: The participation that CQI now has in TECNiCAFÉ as a partner is fundamental to us being able to fulfill our proposed objectives. CQI connects TECNiCAFÉ with the international coffee community. As I mentioned before, it is absolutely necessary to involve all the links in the coffee chain in TECNiCAFÉ activities. Quality is validated by the final consumer, but producers, roasters, and baristas are all involved in creating that quality. CQI has managed to establish internationally accepted quality-assessment systems such as the Q Grader program that have become the quality-assessment standard for all actors. With its new Q Processing Program, CQI will undoubtedly establish guidelines for coffee-processing practices. By involving all actors in their programs and designing the right tools for continuous improvement, CQI will play an essential role in the park's actions and, through its training programs, will make it possible to disseminate and globalize all the achieved advancements.
Javier Mantilla, advisor of strategy and innovation, National Federation of Coffee Growers (FNC)
Q: Why does the FNC support TECNiCAFÉ?
A: Because we want to contribute to but also take advantage of the knowledge and innovation around coffee, from cultivation to industrial processes to the generation of alternatives for the final consumer.
Q: How do you think TECNiCAFÉ has impacted the coffee sector so far?
A: TECNiCAFÉ has helped awaken the taste for innovation among coffee growers. It has shown them new alternatives to benefit their business, and given them knowledge with which they can innovate.
Q: What does the park represent for Colombian coffee growing and for coffee growing internationally?
A: TECNiCAFÉ represents a serious, disciplined, and permanent effort to create new value in coffee.
Q: What are your expectations regarding the recent inclusion of CQI at the TECNiCAFÉ partner table?
A: This will help bring to life the commercial and high-quality vocation in all links of the coffee chain. Through education, we will be able create a more differentiated and refined product, which will benefit the final consumer and allow more people to enjoy good coffee.
Cesar Augusto Echeverry C., executive director of the TECNiCAFÉ park, manager of Supracafé
Q: Why did Supracafé help to create TECNiCAFÉ?
A: It is very important to us to create processes to spread knowledge and foster innovation to satisfy our current and future consumers. For this reason, and as part of our corporate social responsibility efforts, we have led and managed the creation of the TECNiCAFÉ park. We see TECNiCAFÉ as an instrument to boost the social impact and innovation in high-quality coffees.
Q: How do you think that TECNiCAFÉ has impacted the coffee sector so far?
A: We have helped generate a new dynamic of quality led by a network of actors in the value chain of coffee and coffee production. We hope that we will continue to strengthen this open and collaborative innovation network, and be an epicenter of improving the quality of the product and the quality of life of the different key players in the international value chain of coffee.
Q: What does TECNiCAFÉ represent for Colombian coffee growing and for coffee growing internationally?
A: We represent the power of bringing together institutions to generate synergies around the quality of coffee and to construct more inclusive, equitable, and fair business models in the coffee value chain.
Q: What are your expectations regarding the recent inclusion of CQI at the Tecnicafé partner table?
A: CQI is a key ally of international renown, which positions us as a leading organization in our commitment to coffee quality training. CQI’s knowledge, capacity, and international recognition, coupled with the infrastructure of the park and the quality potential of Cauca’s coffee, puts us at the forefront of innovation in coffee and coffee growing.
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