S&D Coffee & Tea Invests in Professional Training for Smallholder Farmers

By Olga L Cuellar G

S&D Coffee & Tea Invests in Professional Training for Smallholder Farmers

What were you thinking about when you drank your last cup of coffee? It’s probably safe to say it wasn’t about the farmers who harvested and processed the beans you just brewed, but those farmers are responsible for the flavor and quality of the coffee you drink.

Every step of the coffee supply chain is important, but when it comes to the development of coffee flavor and quality, post-harvest processing plays a crucial role. S&D has been working closely with the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) to further education around post-harvest processing through CQI’s Q Processing Program™.

“We want to provide our farmers with a deeper understanding of post-harvest processing. CQI’s Q Processing Program shows them best practices and helps them notice the nuances that impact the flavor and quality of coffee,” says Olga L Cuellar G, Sustainability Strategy Leader, S&D Coffee & Tea. “This valuable knowledge can be a key differentiator in such a competitive market.”

S&D Coffee & Tea Invests in Professional Training for Smallholder Farmers

S&D recently offered this professional program to smallholder farmers in the field—producers who would not otherwise have access to this level of coffee education. Over six days, 18 smallholder farmers participated in the theoretical-practical Q Processing Level 2 course and covered topics such as general processing knowledge, processing technology, good practices and quality assurance for the main processing methods, such as natural, honey and washed.

In what is traditionally a male-driven industry, S&D is on a mission to equip more female farmers with the education and tools they need to be self-sufficient and successful. This was clearly evident in the number of women who attended the recent Q Processing Program—one-third, which is high, as only 10% of women hold a legal land title for coffee farms with access to services. Among them was Luz Adriana Henao Ocampo, a 34-year-old single mother of two and head of her household. She was eager to take her learnings beyond the classroom and share her experience with other farmers.

S&D Coffee & Tea Invests in Professional Training for Smallholder Farmers

“I already knew a bit of the theory; however, I had not had a chance to contrast theory versus practice. I liked the hands-on approach, the group activities, and the knowledge I gained from being there,” said Luz Adriana Henao Ocampo. “I was very happy I was able to participate in the course and hope that in the future I will be able to improve the quality of my coffee.”

Launched in 2017, CQI’s Q Processing Program provides a scientific and technical approach to processing coffees that improves quality, discusses good practices, increases competitiveness, reduces risk and creates a system that can be trusted throughout the supply chain. It’s offered at three levels:

  • Level 1—Generalist, for any coffee professional
  • Level 2—Professional, for coffee pros working regularly with post-harvest processing
  • Level 3—Expert, offering more-advanced study of processing

As the largest coffee and tea manufacturer in the U.S., S&D Coffee & Tea is always working to create a better cup of coffee. And it all starts at the source. Raíz Sustainability®, S&D’s sustainable sourcing platform, offers an inclusive approach to small- and medium-sized farmers and provides them a path toward long-term sustainability in three impact areas: social, environmental and economic.

The Raíz platform is designed as an entry point for all farmers, supporting their efforts with immediate access to training and technical assistance to help adopt best practices in agriculture and business management. Programs like the Q Processing Program provide this type of professional training and allow farmers, leaders and technicians to increase their knowledge without having to rely on outside resources.

S&D Coffee & Tea Invests in Professional Training for Smallholder Farmers

“I was able to discover a part of coffee producing that is not as well-known but is fundamental to the taste of the coffee we drink. We gained so much insight into the world of processing that I felt I needed to share all this with everyone in Raíz,” recalled Esteban Jaramillo, Raíz Coordinator, Medellín, Antioquia. “I hope the farmers can take all of this hard work and translate it into better coffee, which means better quality of life for them and their families.”

S&D understands how vital farmers are to its business and therefore continues to seek opportunities that strengthen their partnerships and further education and training. After all, the best coffee starts with a farmer.