FincaLab® On Location Quality Assurance for Coffee
Small-holders are a major source of coffee in Mexico. Since coffee is a commodity second only to oil, small-holder farms cover a significant amount of environmentally sensitive land and small-holder farming practices are important contributors to biodiversity and habitat on a global scale. Unfortunately, there are large numbers of small-holders who do not have the educational or financial resources to earn consistent incomes from a commodity whose price is set by a worldwide auction system that is in the short term poorly connected to the quality of the product and completely disconnected from the cost of its production. Small-holders have few resources; they are at the far end of a chain of commercialization which favors those with the resources of large corporations. This does not lead to sustainability.
The FincaLab® Coffee Quality Assurance System including its Portable Coffee Evaluation Laboratory is the outgrowth of our work in Nayarit. The FincaLab™ can be used virtually anywhere there is shelter, a level floor, and access to electric power and water. It contains all the tools necessary to evaluate a sample of dried coffee by aspect and cup characteristics, document these characteristics, and design blends to meet contract specifications on the basis of these characteristics.
The FincaLab® provides the user with the tools and methodology necessary to critically evaluate coffee at each of the three major stages of production, reception of fruit, completion of wet-mill processes, and completion of dry-mill processes. Each of these evaluation steps provides information for process improvement through feedback, as well as feedforward information that is needed to assist with the subsequent stage. When used by a trained grader and cupper, the FincaLab™ can provide the information needed to increase yields, increase quality, and qualify coffee for Q Trading and the Specialty Market.
The FincaLab® is it's own carrying case
For transportation and storage, the FincaLab® measures 100 cm x 100 cm x 55 cm. It is supplied with two wooden dowels or bars which serve as handles for four people to carry the entire lab and also double as cleats for tying it in the back of a pickup truck.
When both of its sides are un-clamped and raised, the carrying case becomes a 100 cm x 236 cm cupping table lying on top of a two sided "bookcase" on whose shelves all of the system's tools are stored. Now the wooden carrying bars can be used to support the system's dual fluorescent light fixture above the table to provide light for precise grading of coffee.
All of the equipment and supplies necessary to formally evaluate dried coffee are contained within the lab's carrying case. The user need only supply water (drinking water and washing water) and electricity (110-120 VAC, 20A). Special attention has been given to including ALL of the things that are needed to begin using the FincaLab® immediately upon opening the case and deploying the legs. Too often, in remote areas, a small fault or lack of a specific component can delay work for weeks. The coffee evaluation needs of coffee growers are urgent as the coffee harvest will not wait.
Using the FincaLab® for cupping in Nayarit