While I have probably mentioned more than once that we lack research into coffee quality – Carlos Brando’s talk not only highlighted that a lot has been done in coffee research but also talked about the potential to partner the GCQRI with coffee research institutions around the world.
Every coffee producing country, or nearly every one, has some sort of coffee research institutions already doing a lot of work. In his talk Carlos used the Brazil Consortium model as an example.
This model has 42 different independent institutions, a mixture of state and federal ones, universities and foundations. In total there is around $12m worth of investment there every year and it was interesting to see they showed an ROI of 10-15%.
Carlos has an excellent point – there is already a great deal of infrastructure in place with these organisations. He highlighted that they can provide facilities, equipment, vehicles, payroll and plantations. Having a consortium has several purposes and advantages: By defining demands and deciding priorities it can allocate funding, avoid repetition and independently assess research proposals and help disseminate results – much in the same way that the GCQRI hopes to do these things.
Carlos also talked about how sell these results – sharing information is all well and good, but implementation and uptake are what matters. He said that it was easier to sell things that produced savings but maintained quality, rather than things that would create a hard to define “premium”. His example was the introduction of pulped natural coffee (I loved this bit I knew nothing of the timeline for this!)
In 1953 some studies were done on the pulped natural process but they were pretty much forgotten and consigned to the library shelves 1
In the 1980s they conducted independent trials with farmers. In 1989 Pinhalense (with whom Carlos worked) perfected the equipment necessary. It was presented to the market in 1990. Uptake was slow through ’91 and ’92 as they were advertising it based on the premiums that would be received. In ’94 they were able to present savings through pulped naturals and uptake grew substantially. By 2000 consistent price premiums were offered and within Brazil it was recognized as a quality and spread out from there afterwards.
He talked briefly of the importance of breaking the many paradigms within coffee, something we saw demonstrated in the wine talk the day before.
Finally he talked about how information could and should be shared. Social networking, ever the buzz phrase these days, was suggested and he mentioned one website (setup by the ICO) that I had never heard of called Coffee Club Network. I’ve only just started to look around and am a little surprised at the high view count and membership. I am sure plenty of people reading this already knew about it – but not me!
A very interesting and enjoyable discussion. I had a quick google of Carlos, and there are a few presentation/powerpoint things online that are worth a look.
- This is a massive concern for the GCQRI – that it creates useful research that will be implemented and not collect dust and be forgotten [↩]