“It would have cost me 60,000 pesos or more, but I got it all for free,” says Jennifer Rimando, now a Q grader for Arabica beans, after attending the Q grader course, sponsored by ACDI/VOCA, PCBI, and Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) in 2016 and 2017. Jennifer was one of those who took the intensive course “Introduction to Cupping” and who took the Pre-Q and Q exams, which she passed with flying colors.
Another woman grader for Robusta bean, Bea Belardo, echoes Jennifer’s remarks. “We were invited to attend the classes, and I am thankful that PCBI recommended us to be included even if the program was initially just for Mindanao,” she recalls. Bea hails from Amadeo, Cavite, which is known for Robusta coffee.
While Jennifer took the 2016 Arabica exams and passed, Bea took the Robusta exams in 2017 and passed as well. The certification is good for three years and can be renewed upon passing the calibration exams.
“Now, we give back to our community by sharing what we know with the farmers,” Bea says. The two women recently shared their knowledge on the Q grading of specialty coffee (Arabica) and Fine Robusta at the Ilocos leg of the Women in Coffee training sessions—the fifth in PCBI’s project series with IWCA, DA-GAD Office, ACDI/VOCA, Peace and Equity Foundation, and ECHOsi Foundation.
“We have done five trainings so far, says Chit Juan of PCBI, “and a few more are coming up especially in places without access to trainings because of their low-quantity coffee produce (based on government records) or because they are not known as major coffee areas.” Some areas, like Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM, also do not get trainings because international agencies are advised not to go there. “We go to these areas which have coffee but are excluded from the normal planning exercises,” Chit continues.
For the CQI trainings made possible ACDI/VOCA and PCBI, there are women like Jennifer and Bea who chose to give back by sharing with the farmers what they have learned about coffee growing. The trainings were meant to cater to all those who have no knowledge about coffee quality coffee.