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Taiwan Tech Helps Ethiopian Students Sell Coffee

China Times
Taiwan Tech helps Ethiopian student export coffee beans grown in their hometown to Taiwan, combining the sales of coffee and philanthropy. The image shows Ethiopian students roasting coffee on site. (Image by Ji Zhi-Xiang ) 
Ethiopia is reputed to be the “birthplace of coffee,” where coffee is a leading economic resource. By means of a university-industry collaboration, Taiwan Tech is able to help its Ethiopian international students export coffee beans to Taiwan. The school also hopes that sales of Ethiopian coffee, combined with the “Smart Coffee Roasting Machine Business Model,” can link sales and philanthropy and stimulate local industries.
“Taiwan’s diplomatic relations rely on the private sector,” said Taiwan Tech President Liao Ching-Jong. Both the number and percentage of international graduate students in Taiwan Tech are the highest among all Taiwanese universities. In recent years the number of Ethiopian students has also increased rapidly; currently, more than 80 students from Ethiopia are studying at Taiwan Tech. Most of the students come from areas which depend on coffee cultivation. In light of this, Taiwan Tech has been seeking resources to assist the coffee industry in Ethiopia. 
In the past, the majority of Ethiopian coffee was bought by wholesale dealers. The average price per kilogram was around NT$8. The university-industry collaboration between Taiwan Tech and “Oklao Coffee Farm” aims to help students export coffee beans from their hometown to Taiwan. Students have become the providers of coffee beans, which are bought at higher prices, allowing farmers to gain the highest profit possible.
According to Oklao Coffee Farm, the purchase price for coffee beans can reach up to NT$60 per kilogram. To meet the demand for high quality in the coffee beans, the beans will be sorted by computers as well as manually. In addition, Taiwan Tech has introduced the “Smart Coffee Roasting Machine Business Model” developed by National Kaohsiung First University of Science and Technology. It provides customised coffee roasting service in an effort to help with the development of the local coffee industry.
Ethiopian student Kerayu Bulti Abdis, who is studying in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Taiwan Tech, mentioned that his hometown Jimma is an important place of coffee production where coffee plays a vital role in the local economy. Coffee cultivation has been a family business for generations; everyone in his family has the knowledge of planting, brewing and tasting different varieties of coffee, which is as important as water there. He felt thrilled to be able to help export the coffee beans grown in his hometown to Taiwan. 
Ph.D. student Tamene Tadesse Beyene of the Department of Chemical Engineering stated that Ethiopian coffee has a distinctive fruity flavor. Since beans of superior quality are mostly exported, “it is likely that the Ethiopian coffee people drink in Taiwan is of better quality than that in Ethiopia.”
He also said that the purchase prices his family used to get were lower. With the help of Taiwan Tech’s university-industry collaboration project, it is expected that his family can sell coffee at better prices, and that they can benefit from more advanced machines and techniques. Since Taiwanese people love drinking coffee, he hopes that this collaboration will be a bridge to diplomatic relations between the two countries in the future.
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