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‘One cup at a time’

The cold chain may not come to mind when one thinks of a hot cup of coffee, but for Andrés Londoño and Santiago Londoño, third- and fourth-generation farmers of Colombian Exotic Coffee, this is the key to unlocking the critical tastes of coffee drinkers in the Middle East, which is a region known for its love of the brew.

Andrés Londoño and Santiago Londoño

“Our goal is to change people’s view on coffee, one cup at a time,” Andrés says, adding that the family has been farming in Colombia for nearly 100 years and selling the beans to different parts of the world. His cousin, Santiago adds that although the company is new to the Middle East market, it is confident about the appeal of its products, given its history. “Our main goal is to introduce our unique varieties, as these have never been seen before,” he says. “We take immense care of our product from start to finish, we feel that it is just as important for the end user to understand the great work that goes into it, and that is why we plan on educating the Middle Eastern market on what the procedure is.”

Every step of the way

Andrés Londoño

There are different factors that must be considered in green coffee quality, Andrés says, and names variables such as flavour profiles or scores, physical preparation, shelf life and safety for the consumer as the most crucial. “All these are carefully considered in our farming practices,” he says, “but we have also noticed from different research and our own experiments that the storage conditions afterwards affect all these factors of quality – temperature being one of the most important variables for these changes.” Santiago, in agreement, adds that this was an important realization, considering traditionally, only moisture content has been the indicator for the preservation of coffee. “We have been researching and experimenting in our farms and warehouses and found out that when the three variables – water activity, moisture content and temperature – are not controlled, the sensory and physical quality can decrease substantially. In coffee, a slight decrease in flavour and physical quality is problematic.”

This also has ramifications in terms of safety, Santiago adds. “Not many people know that these fungi produce a toxin called Ochratoxin-A, which is resistant to temperature, which means it cannot be degraded in the roasting process or preparation of the beverage, and when drunk, the human body is not capable of liberating it, accumulating in it for long periods. Ochratoxin-A has also been associated with cancer development,” he says. “For this reason, assuring the proper conditions for storage and transportation not only helps us maintain the cup and physical quality but also helps prevents moulds and fungus to develop inside the bean, which, in terms of food safety, is very important.”

Santiago Londoño

Andrés points out: “The benefit behind the mentioned features is that there is full transparency through unfiltered and untampered data, which will also allow us to provide feedback and request corrective actions, if necessary in real time or in future shipping. Once the product arrives at the DMCC warehouse, we will locate a data logger to record both variables. These will be checked periodically; deviations will be notified to the coffee centre, and corrective actions will be requested.”

Investment in quality solutions

Santiago also highlights the investment in data, adding that presently, the farms utilise a private software that was developed for the coffee industry and the different parts of its value chain. “It has a specific tool for each step of the value chain with accurate sample registration, monitors drying and storage conditions, green grading, sample roasting and cupping,” he says. “This data is useful to control and monitor our process and take corrective actions, if necessary. It can be easily shared with customers, as well. The idea in the near future is to integrate the last part of our value chain, which is the transit from Colombia and the storage and commercialisation here in the Emirates and even add the feedback of our customers; this way, we can really ensure quality of the whole coffee chain.”

A long-term outlook

The cost of implementing and maintaining a process cannot be avoided. However, for Santiago, it is more important to think of the benefits that such investment offers. “Specialty coffee quality is measured within Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) standards, which are between 80 and 100 points,” he explains. “If you produce at the farm a coffee that is at 89 points grade and is a complex exotic variety, like Geisha, you can sell it up to USD 70 per kg. We have calculated that during the 2-3 months transit between Colombia and the UAE, this coffee could lose 2-3 points in grade, because temperature and humidity degrades quality, so an 89-score coffee becomes an 86, which would be sold for USD 35 per kg, which means a loss of USD 35 per kg. If you bring 1.000 kg of this single exotic coffee in a container, it means you would lose USD 35,000 in this single lot. Keeping a complete cold chain from Colombia to UAE for a single container can cost about USD 20.000. It means a return of about 175% in terms of quality preservation.”

Danfoss Press Release – Fresh food, with minimum energy

NORDBORG, Denmark, 21, January 2021: Danfoss said it has strengthened its Alsense IoT services with a holistic store-level software suite, moving store maintenance from reactive to proactive. Making the announcement through a Press release, the company said the technology enables food retailers to prioritise and reduce their maintenance efforts across stores and critical events. It added that the software solution was originally developed by Honeywell.

“We are thrilled to welcome the Smart Refrigeration Solution and incorporate it into our Alsense cloud-based services,” said Jürgen Fischer, President, Danfoss Cooling Segment. “We are now putting predictive maintenance into action, allowing the food retail industry to prevent unplanned cooling system downtime and inefficiencies in energy consumption.”

Natalie Schnippering, Head, Product Management Digital Services, Danfoss, said: “Combining the Smart Refrigeration Solution with our existing Alsense portfolio accelerates our ambition of meeting food retail customers’ needs for optimizing and proactively maintaining a high store performance. The solution goes beyond the traditional monitoring systems that are primarily providing alarms and data overviews. It identifies operating issues, such as compressor failure or coil icing, and provides hands-on guidance to fix them.”

According to Danfoss, Alsense provides food retail professionals with transparency and executive overviews of refrigeration assets and energy efficiency at chain level. Going forward, the combined Alsense offering will enable managers to easily benchmark and prioritise efforts across stores to save time and optimise the impact of their maintenance spend, Danfoss said. Further, Alsense will provide service technicians with a prioritised action plan, empowering them to immediately address equipment performance and operating concerns upon arrival at a store, Danfoss added.

Chris LaPietra, Vice President and General Manager, Honeywell Stationary Refrigerants, said, “The Smart Refrigeration Solution software was developed based on customer requirements gathered from leading food retailers, who were looking to save money by reducing energy spend and improving performance of their refrigeration system.”

According to Danfoss, the step follows the launch of its Alsense IoT platform in October 2020 and will accelerate its efforts in providing food retail professionals with intuitive software tools and data-driven, expert-enabled insights to optimise operational efficiency, refrigeration asset performance and energy efficiency.

UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment underscores commitment to food safety

DUBAI, UAE, 6 January 2021: The UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) has stressed that the safety of foodstuffs, whether produced locally or imported, is among its highest priorities. In this context, the Ministry has implemented an integrated approach to enhancing food safety and security in the UAE, it announced through a Press release.

His Excellency Dr Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “We aim to boost the UAE’s position as a regional and global trade hub for food products through applying the highest standards of food safety to locally produced and imported foods. In addition to keeping food-borne diseases at bay, our food safety controls and measures boost the competitiveness of food products exported and re-exported by the UAE.”

His Excellency Eng Saif Al Shara, Assistant Undersecretary for the Sustainable Communities Sector and Acting Assistant Undersecretary for the Food Diversity Sector, noted that a key pillar of food safety is the accreditation of slaughterhouses exporting meat and meat products to the UAE. He said: “MOCCAE, in collaboration with its stakeholders, works relentlessly to boost the safety of imported foods, and safeguard consumers from harmful and adulterated foods through a host of regulations and processes covering all stages of the supply chain. These include implementing world-class food safety standards, issuing relevant laws, establishing intel exchange mechanisms with the concerned local and international entities, upgrading food safety control procedures, and raising public awareness about sound food-related practices.”

His Excellency Eng Al Shara explained the accreditation process applicable to slaughterhouses that export meat and meat products to the UAE, aimed at ensuring they uphold the halal criteria for animal slaughter. MOCCAE, he said, has contracted trusted organisations overseas to inspect the meat production process at the facilities and submit technical reports to the National Food Safety Committee, comprising experts from the Ministry and local food control authorities from all emirates. After reviewing the reports, the Committee makes recommendations to MOCCAE regarding the  accreditation of each slaughterhouse.

According to the Press release, in case the reports issued by the overseas entities or by the border inspection team testify to the slaughterhouse’s failure to adhere to the health or halal requirements, the Ministry immediately revokes its accreditation.

His Excellency Eng Al Shara emphasised that given the high demand for meat and meat products in the UAE, their safety for consumption is a priority for MOCCAE. In this context, the Ministry verifies the documents accompanying inbound consignments shipped by accredited slaughterhouses, such as halal certificates, certificates of origin, and health certificates. It also conducts physical and laboratory tests on samples from shipments, and takes action against those who trade in food products that are non-compliant with food safety regulations or shariah rules.

Italy pavilion for EXPO 2020 aims to tackle global sustainability challenges, says ambassador

Dubai, UAE, 20 March 2019: The Italian tradition is a mix between beauty and function, said His Excellency Liborio Stellino, Ambassador of Italy to the UAE, following a special preview of the Italian Pavilion for EXPO 2020, presented by Carlo Ratti, Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Founding Partner, Carlo Ratti Associati, and one of the architects that designed the Pavilion during Italian Design Day on March 19, at the American University in Dubai. Stellino stressed that legacy is an important element driving Italy’s participation in EXPO 2020 and that the Pavilion aims to showcase key learnings related to food safety and security and future energy gained from previous Expos in a bid to address the global challenge facing sustainability in a more holistic manner.

Providing a brief history on the country’s long-standing commitment towards sustainable practices, Stellino said: “The importance of energy started in 1973, when we had the first oil crisis. From the time, we tackled problems of energy efficiency, we developed a lot of techniques, technologies and expertise. Today, in Italy, despite the lack of oil and natural resources, we save 20% [of electricity], thanks to better efficiency of buildings.”

Stellino said that despite being associated with classic and traditional buildings, Italy has made great strides in integration of technology for modern infrastructure, owing to the expertise of the engineering and architectural community, stressing that innovation is in their DNA. “The close link between entrepreneurship and art has oriented our design in a more functional way,” Stellino said. Ratti discussed the vital role sustainable cooling plays in modern infrastructure, adding that while the Italian pavilion will be generally cooled using air conditioning, there is a move to incorporate passive cooling design elements to make the most of the time of the year, when the UAE has cooler temperatures.

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