NAEB trains Q-grade coffee cuppers

The national Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) and the Coffee Quality Institute have trained coffee cuppers commonly known as Q-graders.
Trainees sieve coffee beans before roasting. The New Times / Courtesy photo.
Trainees sieve coffee beans before roasting. The New Times / Courtesy photo.

The national Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) and the Coffee Quality Institute have trained coffee cuppers commonly known as Q-graders.

Eric Ruganintwali, the director of quality control, inspection and standards compliance at NAEB, said the objective of the training was to build capacity of Rwandans in coffee cupping, as well as training new Q-graders for Rwanda and calibrated those whose licenses had expired.

The trainees were mainly from different coffee blisters across Rwanda, who represented the main active actors in the coffee business in the country and NAEB staff.

Q-graders training involve a series of standard exams as set by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) through which the Rwandan coffee is graded, Ruganintwali said.

He added the training was crucial to Rwanda since “we are targeting specialty coffee and, thus, having skilled personnel in this business is a prerequisite.

Rocky Rhodes, a trainer from the Coffee Quality Institute, said the training helps to create a common language between farmers and coffee blisters and eases trade.

“At times commercial language may not be clear to coffee farmers and the training translates or converts the words into numbers, which are similar across the world,” he said.

“If Rwandan coffee measures 7.5 acidity, this is a standard worldwide and any roaster with this preference would place an order from anywhere,” he added.

He urged that because roasters know what they want, they would share information with coffee exporting countries a move that is likely to reduce involved costs for both exporters and roasters.

Roasters order samples from different countries which may take time to be delivered and even more time in going through a batch of samples to get what they need hence with the Q-graders it requires exchange of email with specification and coffee can be delivered within a shortest time.

He said African countries that produce coffee had embraced the system and only Ethiopia grades its coffee through the Ethiopia Coffee Exchange.

Twenty-four people from across the country, who had their Q-grade certificates expire this year.

With Q-graders we are able to grade all the coffee prior to export and send data to any potential buyer.

 

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