The CQI Journey: Juli Burden

 

Many coffee professionals say they would have loved to study coffee in school, and Juli Burden is doing just that! In 2012 she moved to Hawaii to complete her undergraduate degree and study sustainable agriculture and environmental soil science at the University of Hawaii. She is currently a sustainable agriculture fellow from the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center working towards a master’s degree in Agroecology.

CQI met Juli in 2011, when, while working as a café manager, she made the trip to Long Beach to take a Q-Grader course. Juli began her time in coffee in 2004 and found, like so many in this industry, that the more she learned, the more she wanted to learn. In that Q course, she learned more about the agricultural and processing side of coffee and started to grasp how much there was to learn about two of the most important facets of coffee: agronomy and processing.

It was during this time she made the decision to move to Hawaii to pursue an education in science. To elevate her formal education, she wanted to get some field experience and discovered the Hawai’i Agriculture Research Center, a diversified agriculture research organization which studies coffee and other tropical crops. She started working there as a volunteer in 2013 and was eventually hired as a research technician.

After a number of years honing her coffee processing skills in conjunction with learning about soil science and agroforestry, she heard about CQI’s Q-Processing courses. In 2018, she traveled to El Salvador to take the QP2 course and become a Q-Processing Professional. After completing the course, she has continued her work in processing. Last year, in collaboration with Trey Cobb, a fellow Q-Processing certificate holder, she executed a small informal processing experiment with Bourbon and Typica varieties grown on Oahu. One of those experimental coffee went on to the 2020 USBC National Championships as served by Reyna Callejo from Olympia Coffee Roasters. It is Juli’s hope to continue her processing education and take the Level 3 course in the future.

After taking the Q-Processing Professional course, Juli was inspired by the lectures pertaining to water. During processing, particularly in washed coffees, there is a tremendous amount of wastewater produced. Wastewater is no small problem in processing coffee: if treated improperly, it can act as a serious agent of pollution in water systems and, due to the chemical and biological load of the water, it can’t be easily reused or repurposed. Juli took this inspiration into her academic career and is now studying wastewater remediation.

Today, Juli manages a small 1.5-acre ‘Bourbon’ orchard in Mauanawili, Oahu, and continues to pursue her Masters’ degree.

Pending funding support, she hopes to conduct an experiment to employ plants and other organisms to bioremediate coffee wastewater so it can be safely repurposed for irrigation water and use the remediating plants as a novel biofertilizer. She sees this as an ideal method to improve processing efficiencies while capturing plant nutrients that would otherwise become environmental contaminants. Juli is confident the experimental results will of great benefit to the coffee processing community. She is currently searching for interested industry partners with whom to collaborate on this research.

If you are interested in getting involved Juli’s Masters’ research on wastewater remediation, please contact her at julijb@hawaii.edu