The Coffee Industry Corporation has carried out an extensive consultation last year with its stakeholders both in the country and overseas to introduce a new grading system for Green Bean Coffee.
The new system will focus more on bringing the smallholder coffees up to a desirable standard.
According to the working committee, the new grading system has been reviewed and finalized.
This brings the current grades for Arabica coffee from 12 down to only 5. The new grades are A, B, Y, Y2 and Y3.The current exportable grades used by the industry include AA, A, AB, C, PB, X, E, PSC, Y1, Y2, Y3 and T.
For Robusta coffee, it increases the number of grades applicable to Robusta from two to three, introducing a new top grade to allow for the possible development of specialty qualities of Robusta in the future. The new Robusta grades are R1, R2, and RT in order to prevent any confusion with the grading denominations used for Arabica.
CIC’s senior quality officer Rose Romalus said that the new standard will put more emphasis on cup quality. “Any coffee that comes from the smallholder sector has the potential to be ranked in the upper grades,” said Ms Romalus. “We’ve removed discrimination for smallholder coffees,” she added.
The current green bean standard is based on where coffee was produced whether on smallholder gardens or plantation, which takes into consideration the size of the bean and defect levels.
The new shift in the Green Bean Coffee standard will also look at the bean size and defect levels, however, more emphasis will be put on the cup quality.
The new standard will give the smallholders an equal chance to produce the same quality coffee a plantation or estate produces.
The last review on the Green Bean standard was done in 2001.The finalized document on the grading system is now with National Institute of Standard and Industrial Technology (NISIT) awaiting endorsement and approval before it can be gazetted.
Once the new standard is gazetted, CIC through PPAP (Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project), will roll out training programs for all CIC officers who deal with coffee inspections and export before proceeding to its stakeholders in the industry. The training for officers is expected to begin in April this year.
The smallholder sector is the industry’s backbone, accounting for about 85 per cent of annual production, followed by Plantations (5 per cent) and Blocks (10 per cent)