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From CQI: Empowering Stories in Coffee Quality - Yimara Martinez Agudelo

Posted by Andrew Ho on February 4, 2020 at 11:12 AM



Our Quality Control Specialist, Yimara, was recently featured in a spotlight on the Coffee Quality Institute's blog and this post is taken from there.

You can check out the feature on their website here, or read below!


My name is Yimara Martinez Agudelo. I am from a small town called Tunía in the state of Cauca, Colombia. I am the daughter of smallholder coffee farmers, and all my life I have been around coffee and the people who produce it. Thanks to my parents, who encouraged me to learn to be able to support producers like them, I have had the opportunity to be trained as a cupper in the FCC- or Federación Campesina del Cauca, a beautiful organization of small producers in Cauca. When I was 15 years old, I started working with coffee community organizations. A couple of years later I received my Q-Grader certification, and at that time we had the opportunity to reopen the FCC coffee school in the service of educating sons and daughters of coffee producers promoting the generational change, which I was part of as the quality control leader for about 7 years.


My work in coffee has been focused as a quality analyst as well as providing educational training to coffee growers, including the new generation of coffee growers in my home region. This work promoted the improvement of agricultural practices, environmental care, quality control and the impact of quality in coffee. While working in coffee I also met my husband, and that is the reason why I currently live in the United States, in Portland, Oregon. Living here is how I had the opportunity to be part of the Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers team, who also is the importer for the Federacion Campesina del Cauca where I worked for so many years in Colombia.

This is really a beautiful story because I have been able to be a part of many steps in the coffee chain, from living on a farm as a producer to working at a cooperative and supporting other coffee farms. I have also had the chance to work with exporters and am grateful now being able to work with an importer and receive the coffees as they arrive.  My work today is very important and allows me to learn and understand more about the coffee world and gives me the chance to continue sharing knowledge and promote quality, and not just in one country but in many coffee-growing countries. This is something I never imagined, having the opportunity to teach in the United States, in Peru, Nicaragua, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Rwanda!  That gives me an immense amount of joy because I understand all the challenges that coffee producers have in order to grow coffee and my intention is to be able to give them back a little of how much they give us.


In 2016 I began volunteering with CQI as the Q Processing Program began to build on its relationship with Tecnicafe in Cauca. In this step of learning from the best in processing and intense work, I started preparations to become an instructor and I am very proud to have been the first woman certified as a processing instructor for both levels, general and professional, and I am currently working on completing the expert level. This is thanks to the support from Sustainable Harvest and from all who have believed in me, including my mentors.

Being a coffee processing instructor in a field where there are many men full of knowledge and who dominate the area motivates me to be better, to strive, to learn.  But being an instructor in this category also teaches me that I can do it, that it is possible. And teaching everyone to be humble with what they know, no matter if they know little or know a lot, that the important thing is to share it and accept when we don't know because that's how we all learn. We all start in the same place.


My special message is to all these women in the world who do incredible jobs, who strive to be better so that the world recognizes how capable we are. No matter what difficulties or obstacles in life we have gone through, the important thing is not to forget where we came from. To do better for others, we have to try, we have to make a difference, nothing is easy in life but it can be done if we  persist in our dreams, believe in yourself!


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