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Old 22-07-2003, 07:38 PM
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Coffee cup tasting – an ultimate factor in determining quality, by James Kila

CUP tasting of coffee technically known as “liquoring” determines the ultimate or final quality of any coffee in world trade.

Not many Papua New Guineans know that it is on the cup taste or liquor quality that all important trade decisions of coffee purchase and price are determined in the international market. Most PNG producers only understand the growing and the processing aspects of coffee.

This aspect of cup taste assessment was discussed at length during a coffee quality workshop conducted recently at Aiyura, Eastern Highlands province. The workshop funded by the European Union had participants from selected stakeholders in the coffee industry in PNG as well as staff of the industry’s regulatory body, the Coffee Industry Corporation.

Generally, the workshop highlighted that consumers in the world want good clean cup of coffee free of off-flavors for their money’s worth.
It was an eye-opener really to see that many people who have been with the coffee industry do not know that it is the cup taste that determines the quality. A display at the workshop of coffee cups being displayed as samples during the workshop really raised their eye-brows.

It was totally a new experience for some.

One participant David Oromarie said it was his first experience to taste the various flavored coffee cups being sampled, although he has been heavily involved in the initial stages of coffee processing.

“I never know that it is the cup taste that really determines the price and quality of coffee. The course really provided me some valuable knowledge,” he commented.

Cup tasting is normally carried out by one of more trained and experienced coffee liquorers . The brew tempreture is allowed to fall to between 40 and 50 degree celcius before tasting. The liquorer spoons a mouthful of the liquor in a slurping motion, aerating it as much as possible at the same time swirling it around in the mouth for the taste receptors.

Maximum aeration (taking in with air) allows the air to move into the liquior and in doing so displaces the flavour characteristics into the mouth, hence detected by the receptors. Each taster’s personal assessment is discussed and the collective results recorded in a form, noting the intensity of the various characteristics and any off-flavoured discovered.

The samples may then be passed, down-graded basing on the quality assessment done.

The cup taste flavour (liquor) can and are affected by the type of defects and their intensity of occurance.

After the final quality of coffee is determined by liquoring, basing on the results the liquiorer issues an Inspection Certificate (IC)to the exporter or its agent. Only after an IC is issued will the consignment be moved from the warehouse(s)onto the wharf.

Course facilitator and an experienced liquiorer with the Coffee Industry Corporation, David Rumbarumba emphasized that quality is the most important factor that determines the success of a product on the market today.

“The world is more quality conscious than ever before and therefore, to compete successfully and have an edge over PNG competitors, PNG must continue to produce the coffee of the quality that it is enjoying today or better still, look for ways to improve it,” Mr Rumbarumba stated.

“The ultimate consumers requirements should be kept in mind at all times when green beans are produced,” he added.

PNG produces only one per cent (1%) of the total world coffee production. So it depends mostly on quality factor for trade. Complaints and Quality claims are not good for the industry and there, PNG must try harder to prevent them from occurring and continue to maintain the good name of our industry.

The Coffee Industry Corporation’s Export Quality Assurance Plant (EQAP) in Lae is the last quality check mechanism put in place by the Coffee Industry Corporation. It can only monitor and identify problems in quality of green bean readied for shipment, and taking measures to prevent export of sub-standard coffee.

The workshop also discussed that the quality of coffee is greatly determined at the processing stages after harvest. It must therefore be stressed that during harvesting and processing of coffee all processing procedures must be employed. Machinery involved must also be serviced and maintained regularly to achieve maximum quality.

Every coffee producers in PNG need to focus more coffee quality as it is the major selling factor in the world today.

In the international market consumers are now better educated and are very quality sensitive and any slight change to a product characteristics can be a cause of concern. Which means if PNG coffee is not consistent with its quality as expected or specified in the contracts initially taken with buyers overseas, it can easily be rejected. Also quality of deliveries of specified grades of coffee from one season to another must be consistent.

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