PNG Q-graders join judges panel

Q-graders and organisers of the 2018 National Coffee Cupping Competition.

Five Papua New Guineans will join seven international Q-graders for the 2018 PNG Coffee Industry Corporation Ltd National Coffee Cupping Competition to be held in Port Moresby from Sept 10-14, 2018.

Among the local coffee cuppers will be Enos Dum, 29, of Osifagu Village in the Unggai Bena District of Eastern Highlands. Young Enos took part in two national coffee tasting contests in 2015 and 2016 respectively as a cupper, but next week will be his first to grade coffee in cup and taste alongside international certified experts as a Q-grader.

Enos and Stilla Frisu are CIC employees with rare Q-grader status in the country. According to Coffee Quality Institute USA only 4,000 people in the world can say they are a licensed coffee Q-graders.

To take part as a certified Q-grader in a national cupping challenge is a milestone achievement for this Eastern Highlander who only recently joined an exclusive list of four local Q-graders in the country.

Q-grader is a profession associated with specialty 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.

“It is a profession in the coffee world not many people are familiar with. Personally I’m proud to be a member of this exclusive club in the country to join internationally recognised Q-graders next week in Port Moresby for the 2018 National Coffee Cupping Competition.”

“I think the participation of experienced local cuppers is a bonus to the coffee industry in PNG and I’m thankful to God,” says a humble and quiet Enos who works as a food technology officer for CIC at the Lae export office.

To become a Q-grader is not that simple. One has to sit for a week-long Q-exam created and maintained by the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) USA. The exam has 22 tests, and to pass, you must pass them all. As long as you attend (and pass) regular calibration sessions with other Q-graders, you are a grader for life.

Enos was in a class of 12 participants who sat for a hectic six-day examination on coffee cupping covering general knowledge, sensory skills, organic acids, green grading, roast identification, olfactory matching and blind testing, cupping skills and triangulation.

He was among only four who passed the arduous and stringent examinations. The other certified graders were Stilla Frisu and Marty-Linda Hasu (has left CIC) and Mark Munnul of Kosem Coffee Ltd in Jiwaka.

This first-ever in country training recognised by CQI USA was held at CIC’s research and extension facility at Aiyura Valley in May 2017. It was conducted by a certified instructor from Indonesia Adi Taroepratjeka who is a R-Grader Robusta, Q-Grader Arabica and Q Instructor. Lovelynn Pewi Kunoko of Niugini Coffee/NGIP Agmark was the first in the country to be certified in a four-day training in the Philippines in 2016.

Next week Enos Dum and colleague Q-grader Stilla Frisu with local experienced cupper Rose Romalus also of CIC with Mark Munnul of Kosem Coffee and John Sathya of WR Carpenters will join hands with seven international Q-graders. They will judge 67 coffees that have made it through from 110 entries at the 2018 Regional Cupping Competition held at the National Sports Institute in Goroka in August.

The NCCC will be held at the Holiday Inn & Suites in Port Moresby coinciding with an Apec meeting.
Prior to joining CIC Enos had work experience with BNG Trading and Goodman Fielders International in Port Moresby as a food technologist.

As a certified Q-grader, Enos would like to see the coffee industry in the country affiliate with CQI or Coffee Quality Institute USA to train and graduate more local Q-graders in the coffee industry to market our coffees based on cup quality as per the revised green bean grading system.
“We must have a CQI system to assess our own coffees for smallholder growers to fetch the best price for their coffee.” He adds: ““Being a Q-grader working at the CIC Lae office which is the export point of PNG coffees to the overseas adds value to the CIC Ltd. There is a guarantee that someone who is a qualified cupper is there to check and ensure all coffees meet PNG green bean coffee standard”.

“The exporters should now know that they will not run away from CIC from being non-compliance with coffee quality and grade as far as Export & Quality Control Section in Lae is concerned.”
Enos acknowledged the project management unit of Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (PPAP) (coffee component) and the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access programme (Phama) for financing the first Q-graders training which he and three others successfully passed to join the exclusive list of local Q-graders in the country.

CIC’s senior coffee quality officer Rose Romalus says Enos has progressed well starting as an observer in the first 2014 National Coffee Cupping Competition.
“His job here at the Lae office is demanding. He checks coffee exports with various grading labels to ensure they match our quality export criteria based on the revised green bean standards.”

Enos is grateful to family and friends and colleagues at CIC who have guided him along the way. His advice to other young men and women is to be content in life.
“Just be content with yourself, what you do and blessings will come at their own timing.”

Next week’s national coffee cupping contest will attract international coffee judges from Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and Australia.

The competition is held in partnership with the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) Program, an Australian government initiative, co-funded by the New Zealand government to help Pacific island countries better manage and utilise opportunities to export primary products including fish and forestry products. Australia and New Zealand are markets of major importance, along with export markets beyond the Pacific.

CIC chief executive officer Charles Dambui also acknowledges the support from Government of PNG, Bolaven Farms Hong Kong, GrainPro Philippines, Liberty Coffee Singapore, New Guinea Highlands Coffee Export, Investment Promotion Authority, Proceso Puro, Bendig and Express Freight Management.

Dambui adds the competition aims to identify and profile good quality coffees from progressive cooperative groups in major coffee growing provinces and expose the intrinsic value of coffee grown and produced in PNG to the outside world.

“One factor in favour of PNG is the exotic naturally grown characteristics of PNG coffee. Coffee produced under natural conditions and its inherent organic flavour places PNG in the top bracket of gourmet coffee market. PNG has a huge potential to cultivate niche market using these coffee qualities or attributes and generate higher income. Our inherent problems is consistency. Farmers participating must be ready to supply consistent volume and quality as demanded by the market,” says Dambui.

*This article was published in The National newspaper. It was developed by the PNG Coffee Industry Corporation which partnered with PHAMA for the 2018 National Coffee Cupping Competition.

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