2021.01.26 CH Biotech Opens Its Latest Coffee Project, a Conservatory with a Café

CH Biotech (TWSE: 6534) opened its Landscape Conservatory today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by its chairman, Chen-pang Wu; Huu-Sheng Lu, director of the College of BioResources and Agriculture of National Taiwan University (NTU); and Fu-sheng Shieu, President of Chung Hsing University. The NT$10 million building, which adopts the Specialty Coffee Association’s (SCA) Coffee Beans Classification system and draws on the company’s first-class coffee labs and R&D center, is the first of its kind in Asia. Doubling as an employee break space complete with its own café, the Landscape Conservatory is a showcase of CH Biotech’s R&D work with coffee.

Coffee is one of the world’s most valuable crops, with a total output value of more than US$100 billion (NT$3 trillion), according to Business Insider. Coffee bean prices vary dramatically by farm, however. According to the Best of Panama e-Auction, Panama Geisha coffee beans, a specialty variety, were sold at US$1,300.5 per pound (NT$36,400) in 2020, nearly 1000 times the price of low-grade beans (US$1.32 per pound, or NT$37).

The big price differential is due to flavor, so unlocking the secrets of premium coffee bean flavors is a highly profitable business, Wu noted. CH Biotech is one of a select few agricultural pharmaceutical companies in Taiwan that has achieved success in the US, the most competitive market in the world. This success can be attributed to the company’s unrivaled dedication to R&D. The company invested NT$2 billion in creating its R&D center, a record in Taiwan. Over the past two years, R&D spending made up 18-19% of its revenues, and R&D personnel accounted for 60% of the workforce.

CH Biotech’s unique R&D system, developed for field crops like soybeans, wheat, and sweet corn, is also applicable to coffee beans, and the company is undertaking collaborations with a number of coffee farms in Taiwan. More importantly, CH Biotech’s R&D on coffee beans has adopted the guidelines of the SCA, which since its founding in 1982 has set up a globally recognized system of coffee bean scoring, protocols, and best practices.

Based on these standards, CH Biotech invested over NT$10 million to create four coffee research labs focusing on Italian coffee, sensory & brewing, coffee bean processing, and roasting. Each lab is SCA certified to ensure the equipment and programs meet the highest global standards.

CH Biotech aspires to meet two goals in its coffee R&D efforts, pointed out Wu. The first is to develop globally competitive agricultural inputs and services for coffee, including fertilizers, plant growth regulators, and field management systems. Second, the company hopes to build on its robust R&D resources and put Taiwan on the world’s coffee map by hosting international contests and forums with heavyweight organizations such as the SCA and the Coffee Quality Institute.

The Landscape Conservatory, not open to the public, serves as the employee break space and includes a café, since a cup of specialty coffee is best savored in the right environment. CH Biotech commissioned the College of BioResources and Agriculture of the NTU to select trees and plants for the conservatory, and created a 7.5-meter tall waterfall wall. The combination of negative ions from the waterfall and phytoncides from plants helps create a therapeutic and relaxing environment. Furthermore, when CH Biotech employees, especially R&D team members, savor coffee in the café, they can appraise the results of their work and make suggestions that help improve quality and flavor. The space complements and supports CH Biotech’s other coffee initiatives, including seminars, forums, and international competitions.

CH Biotech sees the new conservatory as a place to showcase its efforts along the coffee value chain and entertain its own staff and coffee experts from home and abroad. It is also a perfect addition to the company’s coffee aspirations, as it works to make Taiwan the world’s R&D center for coffee.


Related articles