Quality Control

Manuel de Leon

Began his story in coffee at the age of 6 when his father Jorge De Leon taught him and his younger brother how to roast and cup. At age 15, he was introduced to the technical analysis of cupping, where he gained deeper understanding of Guatemalan Coffees. Since then he has been cupping coffees from all regions, concentrating on Antigua Coffees. He has taken many courses at Anacafe, obtaining the Cuppers, Barista and Roasters degrees. He worked at COFECO, S. A. as head cupper and quality control advisor. During that time he participated as a cupper at the SCAA in Portland, OR., and at the Guatemalan “Cup of Excellence” in the pre-selection round and the auctioned coffees. Manuel also obtained his Q grade certification in Long Beach, CA. Currently Manuel is part of the cupping panel at TWCS as well as directly working with the farmers to maintain TWCS’s quality standards. He is also continuously searching for new coffees with exciting characteristics in producing countries.

Humberto Peña

Humberto Peña is an expert in the coffee industry, with over 25 years of experience in cupping and quality control. He was awarded the title of ‘Expert coffee cupper’. Peña has worked as the director of administration and production for the dry and wet milles for H. De Sola, S.A. in Guatemala and El Salvador. He was the head of cuppers for the National Coffee Association of Guatemala (Anacafe) for three years prior to Ambrosio. He is currently the director of SuBeneficio, S.A. (owned by the Coto Family) in Guatemala, where he is responsible for quality control, operations and to make sure the Mill is run most efficiently. He is responsible for making sure that all the coffee we purchase is delivered to SuBeneficio with the quality previously approved.

Jorge De Leon

Jorge De Leon his long trajectory in coffee back in 1983 as a cupping lab assistant at Anacafe, where he took courses on the cultivation, wet and dry milling, exporting, and cupping with expert cupper Mr. Axel Mejia Sanchez. In 1988 began working at Del Tropico and a year later, in he joined BECENSA, a coffee exporting company. During that time he also worked part time at DESOLA (later Unex de Guatemala). A few years later he worked at Agricafe/Usicafe. In 1998 he became independent setting up Café Corporativo, specializing in technical field consulting and cupping in the Antigua region. He has worked with some of the most renowned farms such as, Finca Carmona, Finca Bella Vista, Finca Santa Clara, Finca Capetio, Finca Puerta Verde and many others. Currently Jorge works for UNEX DE GUATEMALA, part of the ITOCHU Group. rge is an experienced Q cupper, and has been on the panel of auction judges for “Cup of Excellence” since 2002. In 2004-05 he participated as a judge for the ‘Exceptional Cup’ auction and has also participated as judge for several “Q” auctions.

Dry Mill, Sorting & Storing

‘Dry milling’, which is the final stage in green coffee production, involves removing the last layers of dry skin, sorting and preparing the beans for shipment. The first of these is called ‘hauling’, which is the removal of the dried sheath peeling off the bean, which in the case of coffee that has been washed as described above is known as parchment skin.
The parchment skin is removed from the coffee bean with the help of machines called hullers, which can range from simple millstones to sophisticated machines that gently abrade the coffee.

Most high quality coffees then go though several machines that sort the coffee by size and density of bean while removing unwanted debris that may have been mixed up with the coffee during drying in the Patios. One of these machines blows the beans into the air, separating the heaviest best that land closest , from the small beans that are propelled the furthest. Another machine is used to shake the beans through sieves, sorting them by size. A vibrating gravity separator can also be used to collect only the densest most flavorsome beans, ready for final sorting.
Color sorting is the trickiest and perhaps the most important of all the sorting and cleaning. Most high quality coffees are color sorted by hand, in Central America, often by teams of women. Keen eyes pick out discolored or defective beans leaving only the best for packaging. We are lucky enough to have one of the best groups of sorting women at our mill – SuBeneficio. Above is a picture of them in action. The coffee is then stored in Grain Pro – a multi-layer plastic bag made to preserve freshness and aroma for longer keeping our coffees at their best.

We believe that quality control means to actively control the quality, not only to assess the quality at the various stages in the process. Our quality control focuses on the preservation of the coffee bean physical, and cup characteristics. Some studies have revealed that it is of paramount importance to keep the germ alive during processing to insure that the coffee maintains its cup characteristics and also to extend the shelf life of the green coffee. We don't believe that we create the quality. It is the weather conditions, varietals, care of the farmer, and many more details that create the quality, however, we believe is our job is to preserve this quality and hence our active quality control. All the steps we take toward preserving the quality are important in achieving the overall goal of not hinder but rather benefit the beans throughout their journey from the farm to the roaster.
For storage, we have been using GrainPro at the beginning and the end of the process. When the coffee arrives in our warehouse, we immediately transfer the coffee from the nylon bags provided by the farmer into GrainPro bags in used export bags. This is done with the objective of slowing down the aging process and also to allow the beans to rest in controlled environments without drastic humidity changes. By doing this we have seen a clear difference between the endurance of the coffee in green with and without the GrainPro bag during this stage. Once we have a clear view of where each coffee lot is heading to, we decide when to process taking into account shipping date, and length of journey in order to better ensure the green coffee' shelf life. We process the coffee from parchment to green only when we have confirmed dates for shipping, and this allows us to bring the coffee at its best maturity point, still alive. 


More Articles...