January 26, 2022

Perfect Daily Grind & the Global School of Coffee Excellence


Across the supply chain, we know that sensory education is key to the ongoing development of any coffee professional. However, it’s also something that can be hard to come by in many of the remote, rural areas where Honduran coffee is grown.

As such, we’re also delighted to announce that in 2022, we’re starting a partnership with Carlos Pineda of La Escuela de Catadores to launch an entirely new cupping school: the Global School of Coffee Excellence. Read on to learn more about it.

You might also like our announcement for PRF Colombia 2022.

students of la escuela de catadores

An overview: La Escuela de Catadores in Honduras

Founded in 2004 by Carlos Pineda and IHCAFE, La Escuela de Catadores is a cupping school that provides specialty coffee education to students from coffee growing communities in Honduras.

La Escuela de Catadores was established by the Honduran Institute of Coffee (IHCAFÉ) in response to claims that a lack of accessible education was responsible for certain historic quality issues with Honduran coffee. 

Carlos worked for 15 years as a field investigator for IHCAFÉ. During this time, he looked for ways to increase crop yields, improve processing methods, and drive up cup quality. 

After taking a four-month sensory education course in France, Carlos realised that he could make a massive difference in Honduran coffee just by teaching some essential cup tasting skills.

When he returned to Honduras, he set out with the goal of sharing these skills in local coffee-growing communities.

students of la escuela de catadores

Basic course structure

The two-year course offered by La Escuela de Catadores contains 16 modules that cover a wide variety of topics in the coffee industry. Some classes take place in person, while others can be completed virtually.

Although the school is open to all members of the Honduran coffee supply chain, it focuses on teaching the children of existing Honduran smallholder coffee producers.

Enrolment requirements are simple. It accepts learners who are at least 15 years of age, able to perform basic mathematics, and passionate about coffee.

The course is fully certified by the Instituto de Formación Profesional (INFOP), which aims to contribute to the economic and social development of Honduras. Students receive an official diploma upon graduation.

The aim of the course is to teach students how to accurately and consistently cup and evaluate coffee. However, to provide them with a rounded education, they are also educated on topics like roasting, coffee trading, and even coffee brewing.

Although there is a basic layout to the course, the curriculum is tailored to each student based on their individual needs. In addition, as well as providing equipment, materials, samples, and other materials, the school customises the course to each student’s skill set.

To maximise retention, La Escuela de Catadores uses what it describes as a “learning-doing-sharing” methodology. This means each student is required to participate in practical activities, and then, using what they have learned, share knowledge with producers and other members of the coffee sector.

The course’s 16 modules are as follows:

  • Wet milling
  • Agronomy and crop management
  • The Honduran coffee sector
  • Plant yields and preparing green coffee
  • Defects and undesirable flavours in coffee
  • Roasting coffee for cupping
  • The Honduran Technical Norm (Norma Técnica Hondureña)
  • Brewing coffee (barista training)
  • Specialty coffee grading
  • Coffee trading
  • Dry milling
  • Coffee processing 
  • Commercial coffee roasting
  • Coffee certifications
  • Coffee auctions
  • Final evaluation
students of la escuela de catadores

How does the school improve outcomes for its students?

Over 300 students have graduated from the school, and many are now employed at co-operatives, cupping labs, coffee shops, coffee exporters, and roasters. 

In many cases, graduates have returned to their communities to drive change and improve coffee quality. They have become advisors and leaders for local farmers, sharing knowledge about coffee quality, processing techniques, and the potential value of Honduran coffee.

These graduates and their expertise ultimately support farmers to create and maintain long-term trading relationships with international coffee buyers. The belief is that this will, in time, provide farmers with stable income to invest in their farms and expand.

cupping at la escuela de catadores

Launching the Global School of Coffee Excellence

Perfect Daily Grind has always set out to add value to the coffee supply chain, and our partnership with Carlos is a natural next step.

Our publication is focused on providing free educational content for people across the supply chain. Now, we want to be able to empower learning in a completely different way. 

As such, we will be working with Carlos to set up an entirely new, independent school: the “Global School of Coffee Excellence”. This will be inspired by the La Escuela de Catadores model and driven by Carlos’ years of experience.

By committing a percentage of our annual profits to the school, we hope to effect change in the lives of young Honduran professionals in the coffee sector.

From 2022 onwards, we will pledge an annual minimum of US $11,500 to sponsor students to enrol in the school. These students will be selected by an elected board who will use three criteria to select candidates: means testing, passion for the coffee sector, and leadership potential.

On the recommendation of Carlos and several of his alumni, these funds will be used to pay 50% of the annual fees for 18 students. By paying the remaining 50%, Carlos hopes students will remain personally invested in their education.

We have also committed to sourcing equipment for the school, covering everything from cupping bowls to roasters. Our estimated commitment in this regard will be around US $25,000 per year, and we will look to leverage our global network to reach this target.

We will also leverage the experience of PDG Media to carry out a full brand launch for the Global School of Coffee Excellence. This will include ongoing marketing support and the development of a brand-new website.

In time, we hope to increase global recognition for the school, and support graduates to command higher salaries in whatever they go on to do. In turn, we anticipate that this will encourage only the most dedicated candidates to apply.

Through PDG Media, we will also be working closely with the management team at the cupping school to develop a long-term commercial strategy.

The hope is that the project will become self-sufficient, profitable, and scalable, so that the model can be replicated and implemented elsewhere around the world. We will also look to create a school that is completely self-sustaining, using the funds from overseas students to subsidise the education of local means-tested students.

students and staff of la escuela de catadores

We’re incredibly excited to launch our partnership with Carlos to improve access to coffee education in rural Honduras through the Global School of Coffee Excellence.

We’ve already started communicating with potential sponsors and equipment suppliers to this end (including ROEST) and look forward to speaking to more in the weeks to come.

Want to support the Global School of Coffee Excellence through sponsorship or by providing equipment? Email us here.

Photo credits: La Escuela de Catadores

Perfect Daily Grind

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