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ECX Commences Q Coffee Quality Cert.

The system will add value to Ethiopian coffee exports



Eleni Gabre Medhin, CEO of ECX, leads Ted Lingel, executive director of the Coffee Quality Institute on a tour of ECX’s coffee laboratory.


The Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) started using the Q Coffee Quality Certification System for the first time in Ethiopia for export-ready specialty coffee consignments starting Thursday, June 17, 2010, after an agreement signed with the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI).

The in-country agreement (ICP) was signed by Eleni Gabre-Madhin (PhD), CEO of the ECX, and Ted Lingle, the CQI executive director.

Q Certification is a tool that facilitates access for sellers of high quality or premium coffees to the international specialty coffee market. It uses criteria and protocols established by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) and recognised by specialty coffee buyers. It relies on trained and certified professional coffee cuppers (licensed Q Graders) to evaluate samples of coffee for export and assign them a quality category.

In 2009, the CQI worked closely with the ECX to train their cuppers, certifying 37 as Q Graders, and to integrate the Q Coffee System into their arrival grading system.

The Q Coffee System works by having samples of coffee independently cupped and scored by licensed Q Graders and professionally accredited cuppers by the in-country partner.

“This will enable exporters to get the price they deserve for their coffee once they have been graded in the international coffee market,” said Eleni.

There are two categories of grading systems, according to Workeneh Mulugeta, chief coffee quality cup taster at the commodity exchange.

The first is for specialty coffee, whose grading is very strict and no defect is tolerated. The grading in this category comprises of the assessment of damage to the raw coffee by fungus and insects. Then the coffee will be roasted lightly with the oven at a temperature of 250 degrees centigrade to 300 degrees centigrade to observe defects. The roast will then be grounded and mixed with hot water to test for the smell of the coffee.

The second category is for commercial coffee, where up to five per cent in defects is tolerable.

“The ECX was chosen to grade the coffees because it is a neutral and independent third-party for exporters. The system creates a fully traceable and transparent system of exchange for higher quality coffees,” said Lingle.

The CQI promotes certified coffee exporters once their coffee has been graded.

“This will create linkage to other markets,” said Lingle.

During the signing ceremony, out of the 16 exporters who presented 31 samples, five exporters, GMT Industrial Plc, Halcof Limited Plc, ATL Trading, Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, and Tega and Tula Special Coffee Farm Agro Industry, met the CQI requirements and were certified through the ECX.

“Some of the samples failed to meet the requirements of the CQI and the rest are being processed by the graders,” said Lingle. 

The inception of the Q System had encouraged him to continue exporting quality coffee, which can now be graded and certified, Hailu Gebrehiwot, managing director of Halcof Limited Plc, said.

The new certification system would increase his revenues by one third, Mebrahtu Kidane, general manager of Tega and Tula Special Coffee Farm Agro Industry, which exports to the US, Europe, and Japan, said.

The Q Certification is valid for one year. One certificate applies for a single lot of 25 bags or a container which holds 300 bags at once. The certification has recognition in the United States, Asia, and Europe.




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