No 30

Almacafé, key Link to Ensure the Quality and Verify the Origin of 100% Colombian Coffee

November, 2012


Almacafé, key Link to Ensure the Quality and Verify the Origin of 100% Colombian Coffee

Almacafé is a fundamental actor to guarantee, for both clients as well as for consumers, the authenticity of the products described as 100% Colombian coffee. In order to do so, it carries out around 32,000 sampling processes in their laboratories, as well as permanent inspections at the 3 sea ports of Colombia.

Colombian Coffee is not only recognized as the best and richest coffee in the world for its physical attributes and its high quality among millions of consumers from all over the world. Behind this product there is a quality control and support process that guarantees these properties, as well as its denomination of origin as 100% Colombian Coffee.

This chain of quality assurance and verification of origin of the coffee marketed as 100% Colombian, allows at the same time differentiating its unique character, as well as guaranteeing its quality and homogeneity. It also helps to increase the demand for Colombian coffee and the prices consumers are willing to pay for it. In this virtuous circle, Almacafé is a fundamental piece.

Following the quality chain and the origin

It all starts with the research carried out by Cenicafé  and continues on the farm. With permanent assistance through the FNC Extension Service , the Colombian coffee producer has implemented agricultural practices that guarantee a high quality coffee from the farm and the post harvest processes to dry parchment coffee. 

The quality assurance continues at the Cooperatives that buy the beans from the producers. From taking a sample of milled coffee, quality experts evaluate the characteristics of the green bean to determine the price to be paid to coffee growers. They make a first classification of the coffee bags before they are sent to Almacafe´s warehouses, where the quality of the bean is monitored in a more rigorous manner for its definitive classification and storage.

100% of the green coffee that is exported is physically inspected at any of the 3 sea ports in Colombia; Colombian coffee also undergoes a sensorial evaluation, with cup tastings carried out by Almacafé in its 20 quality laboratories, which implies the taking and analysis of more than 32,000 samples per year.

“We have the necessary competence to issue these concepts through accreditations or certifications”, says Rodrigo Alarcon, Coordinator of the Central Laboratory of Almacafé, in Bogota.

Other controls ensure the freshness of the bean; the non-presence of strange flavors, defective beans or live insects; they check that the beans have a homogeneous aspect and control the excess of moisture. Besides, through a monitoring and traceability system, there is information about the specific origin, the location and the trajectory of the Colombian coffee, as well as its quality during the different processes.

Additionally, since July 2012, the first NIRS Network for quality control was implemented in Latin America, which includes a spectral evaluation machine in each one of the sea ports of Colombia, and is being currently used to complete the evaluation carried out on the total exported coffee from Colombia.

“The strict controls that the FNC carries out make our jobs easier as importers. Our reputation is based on those controls of origin”, says Monica Walker, Marketing, Public Relations and Sales Director of Walker Coffee Trading, an importer of green coffee with headquarters in Houston, United States.

“It is like a chain where every person is a link and while there is consistency and we all share the same ideals, the result is phenomenal”, adds Walker.

A consumer willing to pay a higher price for the purchased coffee , will translate into a higher acknowledgment and a higher income for the Colombian coffee grower. 

The latest technology to identify origin

Almacafé has the experience and the necessary technology to detect violations to the origin, for example, the presence of coffees from other green, roasted and soluble coffee origins, labeled as 100% Colombian coffee.

The Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) is an innovative technological tool used to detect the presence of coffees from other origins, both for green and roasted coffees, as well as to identify the origin, even at a regional level.


The NIR spectrum of a coffee sample is like a unique fingerprint, with average values of chemical compounds such as caffeine, trigoneline or lipids, and whose appropriate reading is in charge of specialized professionals. The construction, since 2004, of a database that feed the required chimiometric models used by this technological tool has been a key element in the verification of the origins of the coffee that is marketed as 100% Colombian coffee.

Besides the physical and sensory analyses on more than 32,000 Colombian coffee samples, every year more than 1,300 samples described as Colombian coffee taken in international markets are analyzed.

For this purpose, there is the support of international agencies with mysterious shoppers, who take numerous samples of coffees described as 100% Colombian coffee in the market, which can come from both from the retail channel as well as from specialized coffee shops. At the same time, there are evaluations made to samples provided by members of the 100% Program.

The above shows the great commitment from all the actors across the industry, including the brands 100% Colombian Coffee brands, who from their specialized roles, whether it is in production, verification or marketing, oversee that the characteristic quality and reputation of Colombian Coffee are preserved. 



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