CPWE enhance coffee processing efficiency by 75% with Sortex solutions

Coffee plays a crucial role in generating foreign currency to Ethiopia’s national economy. With a 26% annual market share of all processed coffee for national export, Coffee Processing and Warehouse Enterprise (CPWE) is one of the largest coffee processing plant in the country, facilitating over 100 exporters every year. The company maintains a relationship with Bühler, during which it has used Sortex sorters in all of its coffee processing operations. Subsequently, the company has been able to overcome its four hurdles in coffee processing, namely product quality, export standards, operational efficiency, and stability.

Established in 1994, the Coffee Processing and Warehouse Enterprise (CPWE) processes and stores export-standard, washed and natural Arabica coffee beans grown all around Ethiopia. The Enterprise operates from a 50,683 sqm coffee processing plant located in the nation’s capital, Addis Ababa.

Three export coffee processing lines are able to collectively process 15 metric tonnes of coffee per hour. The company also enhanced a storage capacity of up to 30,000 tonnes and processes approximately 50,000 tonnes of Arabica coffee annually.

Improving product quality and operational efficiency
Most processing plants across Ethiopia use handpicking as a primary means of sorting coffee beans. Getaw Yalew, general manager at CPWE, said: “Before investing in the Sortex machines, we relied heavily on handpicking and the quality control of our coffee was not great. The efficiency was poor, output per hour was low, and costs were high.”

To ensure consistent quality of coffee, the company turned to Bühler. With a portfolio of solutions responsible for processing around 75% of all Arabica beans exported from Ethiopia each year, Bühler was able to meet CPWE’s sorting requirements.

Across each of its three lines, CPWE has two Sortex colour sorters, running back-to-back at the last stage before packing. The Sortex Z+ Bichro machines, the Sortex A ColorVision and the Sortex B MultiVision machines have all been installed for primary sorting as well as resorting, for an added layer of quality assurance.

“Since investing in the Sortex machines, we have reduced our dependency on handpicking,” Yalew stated. As a result, the company has noticed a “vast improvement” in the quality of their coffee beans, with easier removal of sour, vinegar, immature, and discoloured beans, in addition to insect damage and broca beans. “The Sortex colour sorters really do provide an unmatched product quality,” he added.

However, most significantly, CPWE has seen improvement in efficiency, as Yalew elaborated: “So much time has been saved by using our Sortex machines. What would have taken five minutes now takes just two minutes to handpick. Overall, our sorting efficiency, up to and including the final bagging stage, has increased by 75%.”

Satisfying export standards
Every year, over 100 exporters, consisting of agriculture cooperatives and private coffee exporters, use CPWE’s facilities for warehousing and processing. They also make use of the company’s export services to foreign markets such as Europe, Asia and the US. “The first thing we always show our international buyers are our Sortex colour sorters, as an assurance that we have a superior quality of coffee. And they are always impressed,” Yalew explained.

Bühler added that export requirements for coffee beans in Ethiopia are of the highest criteria, with a 99.9% accept quality as standard. If the input quality is poor, a second pass is often required in sorting.

Yalew continued: “Thanks to the simultaneous resorting functionality, we can count on our Sortex sorters to ensure that we continue to meet the toughest export requirements.”

Providing stability
By using Sortex machines in all of its coffee processing operations, Yalew noted: “CPWE has seen the market constantly grow in terms of volume. We have been able to supply our products at a consistent quality standard, with markets now perceiving us as a reliable supplier of high-quality coffee.”

With two Sortex sorters running on each of its lines, CPWE is confident that its customers are satisfied and this, in turn, allows the business to remain stable.

Another factor that provides stability for the company is the after-care service provided by Bühler’s local sales channel partner in Ethiopia, Sol-Pro Engineering & Trade.

“It is a very good relationship,” Yalew claimed. “I have been with CPWE for 15 years and Sol-Pro Engineering has always provided us with quality customer service when we need it. Particularly when it comes to spare parts, we put in a request and receive them very quickly.”

Solomon Belachew, manager at Sol-Pro Engineering and sales manager for Bühler products, added: “It makes up proud to say that CPWE’s Bühler machinery-powered plant continues to lead the market in high-quality coffee processing. What is so great about our relationship with CPWE is that they are very proactive. They always approach us directly to discuss our latest solutions. This is a result of a strong bond based on trust and respect, which will be nurtured for many years to come.”