Global Coffee Quality Research Initiative FAQ

I thought I would post this on the weblog so I could reference it directly … but the web site is at

Frequently Asked Questions concerning the GCQRI

1.     What is the GCQRI? The Global Coffee Quality Research Initiative is an industry funded non-profit created to support research to improve, grow, and protect the supply of high quality washed Arabica coffee.

2.     Why do we need the GCQRI? The long-term supply and availability of high quality, washed Arabica coffee is seriously challenged and there is a lack of research to identify appropriate and innovative ways of increasing cup quality and volumes of quality coffee.   Most coffee research has focused on crop yields or has been mostly proprietary.  The GCQRI provides a mechanism for quality-focused research that will be shared industry wide.

3. Are there programs similar to the GCQRI in other industries? Almost all food and beverage commodities have R&D initiatives funded through a program of taxation applied to the cost of the raw material.  These R&D initiatives have all shown high, positive and consistent rates of return on investments. 

4. Why was there never a check-off program for coffee research? Check-off programs are national and benefits are realized by national producers and processors. Coffee is unique in the sense that coffee is grown in developing countries where research resources and infrastructure have been severely constrained and therefore little or no research funding from national budgets.  The GCQRI is unique in that it is a ‘global’ program that will implement research in origin countries with funding that comes from processors in consuming countries.

5.     Who will run the GCQRI? The GCQRI is collaboration between the coffee industry and academic and institutional partners.  Dr. Tim Schilling will serve as the Executive Director of the initiative.  The Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, housed at Texas A&M University, will provide the management entity for the initiative.

6.     Why the Borlaug Institute? The Borlaug Institute is a non-profit, international, and politically neutral organization whose mission is to eradicate poverty through agricultural research. They are considered a leader in international collaborative agriculture research and development.  The Borlaug Institute has a proven track record on managing projects like the GCQRI and they also possess the unique expertise and experience needed to effectively manage coffee quality research.

7.     How will the coffee industry be involved? Coffee industry leaders along with research and institutional leaders will serve on the GCQRI Board of Directors.   This board will be responsible for ensuring that research projects are meaningful and applicable for the coffee industry.

8.     How will the GCQRI be funded? The initiative will be funded through a voluntary check-off fund program and through direct contribution from coffee industry stakeholders.  Additional funding will come from foundations and development organizations.  Through the voluntary check off fund, roasters will contribute a half penny per pound ($.005) on coffee contracts for washed Arabica coffees.   Importers will collect and transfer the funds to the GCQRI.   Industry companies and individuals can make one time or annual tax-deductible contributions through the GCQRI web site or by sending funds directly to the Borlaug Foundation.

9.     What is the proposed budget for the GCQRI? The GCQRI will need a minimum of $1.4 MM in annual funding in order to execute a meaningful level of research.   If the entire amount were raised solely through the check of fund, this would represent 15% percent of the total washed Arabica imported into the US annually.  After operating expenses, this amount will support 5-10 projects per year working in 15 to 20 origin countries.

10.  How is the GCQRI currently funding its operations? The GCQRI has received $164,000 and is seeking an additional $220,000 in donations during the Genesis Funding phase.  A portion of these funds were used for the GCQRI Congress held at Texas A&M University in October and the remainder will be used to fund a research focused conference scheduled in March 2011 and to support GCQRI operations until the check off fund is fully functional.

11. How will the research projects be selected? Thematic areas of research were identified at the Congress at Texas A&M in October.  These research themes will now be elaborated by a group of key international coffee scientists working together with a select group of industry leaders to produce 5-10 research projects that will be put out for competitive bidding by interested and qualified research institutions. 

12.  What is an example of a project the GCQRI might undertake? A typical GCQRI research project might be the development of high yielding, high quality, heat-tolerant arabica varieties that will circumvent the negative effects of the global warming trends.  A project like this would involve several high-tech research institutions working collaboratively with several origin research institutions to identify germplasm with all the desirable attributes through breeding and to test materials for performance in farmer fields under common coffee cultural practices.  Another project might concentrate on discovering the physiological mechanism responsible for quality degradation in storage and transport and develop technology that will increase quality shelf life for 20 months or longer.

13.  How will I know whether the research is really increasing the supplies of quality coffee and how will the results be shared? Research projects will be monitored by professionals and reports on progress will be shared on a completely open and public platform.  All feasible efforts will be made to coordinate with institutional partners to disseminate results that lead to practical applications to the field level through extension agents and other fieldwork specialists.

14.  What companies are currently participating? During the Genesis Funding phase the GCQRI has received a total of $164,000 from the following companies: Coffee Bean International, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Counter Culture Coffee, Tony’s Coffee, Royal Cup Coffee, Peet’s Coffee and Tea, Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea, Pinhalense, Union Hand Roasted Coffee, Songer and Associates, Sweet Maria’s and P&A Marketing.

How can I get more information? You can get more information at the GCQRI web site   You can also follow the GCQRI on Facebook, and Twitter.  Specific questions can also be directed to Tim Schilling via e-mail:  [email protected]

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