Innovations at ICAFE

As ICAFE is always research coffee and everything that involves coffee they are either experimenting or have made innovations related to the coffee growing and roasting process. Something they are currently experimenting with is different species and hybrid species of the coffee plant. There are about 7 main fungus diseases that affect the coffee plant, and cause it to produce less coffee fruit and eventually die. ICAFE is trying to create or develop a fungus resistant strain or variety of the coffee plant. They have created hybrids which they are currently testing to see if these new varieties will be more fungus resistant but still produce quality coffee. Their goal is to be able to change the coffee harvesting process to make it healthier and less affected by diseases. However, this process is not simple or quick. They must create the hybrid and then to test it fully and see if it is truly resistant and still producing equivalent or better yield and quality, the plant must go through six generations of the plant. This means to fully test the truly outcome of the plant it must be tested for about thirty years. While this is a long time to test if the hybrid or variety could be a helpful new variety it is important research as the diseases are causing the coffee plants to die, decreasing coffee production and income for farmers and roasters. This research is very important to the whole coffee growing and production as it affects the plant which is the center of it all.

Another part of the coffee making process that ICAFE researches and analyses is the soil and agricultural conditions the plants grow in. Coffee farms are able to have samples of their soil and other aspects of the conditions the plants grow in as well as the plant itself are collected by ICAFE. ICAFE analyzes the this all for the chemical make-up through liquid chromatography, infrared detection and an ICP machine. Once they have analyzed all of their samples, they are able to take the data and give advice to the farmers of ways to advance their growing process. This can be through changing or adding something to the growing conditions like fertilizer and what kind and how much. These recommendations can be used by the individual farmers to increase their quality and production yield.

While ICAFE does a lot of research and development they are also a company that does a lot of trade, so that the coffee process is done cleanly and sustainably. ICAFE goes to each exporting and producing farm, to determine the safety of the water that is being used and then dumped into the rivers near by each farm. This must be done and the runoff that goes into the river is good for sustainability, which is very important to ICAFE and the government, but is also makes sure that it is safe. They do not know the runoff to be very acidic form the coffee ad coffee beans.

Something that ICAFE tries to incorporate into their coffee roasting process to test the quality of all the coffee is to have a biomass oven. This oven gets energy from bring materials. These materials are usually waste products, like pulp from the peeling and separating process and the wood form the coffee trees, and the water product from the sugar can usage. They use biological material for energy of this stove. They use these waste products to be a more sustainably company and help with Costa Rica’s  efforts toward carbon neutrality.

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