Locals join exclusive list of international coffee graders

Four coffee industry officers have become certified Arabica coffee graders (Q graders) for Papua New Guinea.

In a statement, the Coffee Industry Corporation said these officers have successfully passed an arduous and stringent international cupping examination process.

“They were part of a class of 12 who sat through a weeklong training and examination, organised by Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) at its Research & Growers Service Division at Aiyura Valley on 22-27 May, 2017.

“The certified graders of the first-ever in country Q grader training were  Matilda Linda Hasu, Stilla Frisu and Enos Dum of CIC, and Mark Munnul of Kosem Coffee Ltd in Jiwaka Province. They now join the exclusive list of five Q graders in the country to access the quality of coffee in cup and grade.”

It was a hectic six-day for the class of 12 covering general knowledge, sensory skills, organic acids, green grading, roast identification, olfactory matching and blind testing, cupping skills and triangulation.

“It was tough and mind-boggling to remain calm and trust our instinct to identify various taste attributes or flavour in the different coffee origins,” says Munnul of Kosem Coffee. His processing and exporting firm is partnering CIC’s Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project to rehabilitate coffee gardens in Jiwaka.

The training was important for the industry to up skill coffee cuppers to be on par with international standards in terms of grading specialty coffees.

“The training will help participants to confidently identify specialty coffees so better prices could be negotiated for farmers and for the coffee organisations,” says Rose Romalus, CIC acting manager for Industry, Regulations & Compliance.

The Q graders training also complements CIC’s rehabilitation effort under PPAP to beef up cupping services for growers in coffee growing areas. This will give effect to the proposed grading system awaiting gazettal, for green bean coffee based on cupping quality.

“At present processors and exporters buy parchment mainly at Y grade price. Availability of certified Q graders and facilities will help growers get independent quality assessment, hence a fair price for their coffee based on cup quality,” says Potaisa Hombunaka, Project Manager for CIC-PPAP.

Ms Lovelynn Pewi Kunoko of Niugini Coffee/NGIP Agmark was the first to be certified in a four-day training in the Philippines in 2016.

PNG now has five certified Q graders who can assess the quality of coffee in cup and grade.

Q grader is a term associated with speciality coffee industry. They objectively examine coffees and score them based on their many attributes and overall quality. It is the only certification in the industry that is based on quality.

The system quantifies taste attributes in a coffee cup such as acidity, body, flavour, aftertaste, uniformity, balance, sweetness, etc, to ensure all participants are identifying flavour characteristics in the same way.

(Two of four officers who successfully passed the examination; Stilla Frisu of CIC, left, and Mark Munnul of Kosem Coffee taking part in organic acid tasting. They are now certified Arabica coffee graders in PNG)

Press release