Quality Control

Another aspect of Colombian Coffee that makes it so unique is the country's high quality control standards. It starts in the farm where the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia sends an appointed official to inspect each farm for sanitary conditions, healthy trees and the quality of each harvest. The inspector checks to see if the beans have been washed properly. He looks for adequate bean size, color texture and overall quality. He begins the final test by removing the husk and tough parchment to expose the bean. You will see him cut the bean in half with a sharp knife. If there is not too much moisture in the bean, the beans will not fly away. If the bean is too dry, it will split too quickly, but if it has been dried just right, the inspector will authorize the farmer to take his crop to the market. The beans are put into burlap bags and loaded onto jeeps. In certain regions, mules and donkeys are still an important mode of transportation from the farm to the market.

At the market, the farmer's crop is further tested by the operation's owner. His assistant punctures the coffee bags and removes a random sample of beans and puts them into a tiny machine which removes the bean's parchment. The owner then tests the beans for aroma, color, size, moisture and texture. Only the best crops are sold and distributed for export.

The beans are now brought to the mill where they are fed into machines which remove the tough parchment husk and silvery skin that surrounds each bean. The beans pass through different screening processes, where they are freed from impurities and sorted by size, weight and shape. Young women undertake that last critical inspection and discard inferior quality beans. Now the rich, olive-green beans are ready to be poured into bags and are sealed for export.
It is only after this long process that the Federation will give its stamp of approval. However, before the bags are sealed, yet another sample is taken which is graded and weighed. This sample of coffee is roasted, ground, and finally tasted in a properly prepared cup of coffee. The experts give marks for aroma, acidity and uniformity. If the experts are not satisfied with the quality of a particular lot, export is refused.

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