• On-the-job (in-company or in-service) training

    This is sometimes mistakenly equated with informal and unstructured education but there are few formal courses for aspiring coffee experts. In-company training is a process whereby people learn from participation in ongoing practical work - typically in a private enterprise under the direction of knowledgeable and experienced people. It is sometimes supported by formal seminars, workshops and courses. In-company training does not normally provide diplomas or degrees and this lack of official recognition limits interest in it. It also makes it difficult to reward successful participants, especially in the public sector where pay levels often depend on formal qualifications and grades.

    Nevertheless, On-the-job training is probably the most effective way to develop coffee processing, liquoring and marketing expertise. It is good to remember that if one cannot taste coffee then how can one value it? Unfortunately, many producing countries, especially smaller ones, lack the infrastructure and/or expertise to organize such in-company training locally.

    The training and experience of many individuals in the coffee industry is frequently confined to their own stage in the process. For example, many processors and quality controllers may know little, if anything, of the real market premiums or discounts for different qualities whereas marketing staff may not know how to improve quality. Millers may be unaware of the real cost of each stage in processing and are therefore incapable of determining whether certain actions are cost-effective in terms of an improvement in the quality and value of the product. The decision on whether to regrade a parcel - usually resulting in an interruption of regular processing - should be based on cost/benefit considerations, i.e. the cost of interrupting processing set against any increase in the value of the product. Processing and marketing staff do not, however, always know or understand each other's preoccupations.

    In principle, it is easier for the private sector to acquire training and expertise because of its relative freedom of action, although the problem of how and where to acquire it still exists. And well-established organizations may have the necessary connections or even an in-house capability. In many countries, however, the options of many new or aspiring exporters, particularly amongst grower organizations, are constrained by lack of product and marketing knowledge and experience.
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