The 2017 Cup of Excellence competition and auction season is in full swing, with competition cuppings taking place throughout Central America, and a public cupping event scheduled for the upcoming SCA Expo in Seattle.
Representatives of COE organizer the Alliance for Coffee Excellence told Daily Coffee News that COE coffees from Nicaragua and El Salvador have already been delivered and are awaiting cupping scores. 2017 new crop winners from those countries will be featured at an event that’s free to SCA Expo attendees on April 21 in Seattle. More on that event can be found here.
Nicaragua and El Salvador are two of the countries in which the COE program was suspended for in-house organizational reasons for the past two years by ACE, and the organization’s new executive director, Darrin Daniel, said the competition’s return to those countries and Mexico has been met with enthusiasm and high participation numbers among quality-coffee producers.
“The return back has proved to be a great success as far as farmer entries and interest. I would put it on par, if not more so, than in previous years,” Daniel told Daily Coffee News. “I was just in Honduras and the level of interest and excitement is refreshing and reminds us of how important and impactful COE is to our growing partnerships in Central America.”
ACE reported that 245 farmers have competed this year in Nicaragua alone. The Nicaragua COE competition will see all of the country’s main coffee regions represented, with washed, semi washed, honey and natural process coffees available, ACE said. COE coffees from Honduras, Guatemala and Costa Rica are also moving through the cupping competition rounds.
All coffees from each country’s COE competition that score 86 or higher are given the Cup of Excellence Award, while coffees that score 90 or higher are divided into smaller lots to be made available for public online auctions to follow. In addition, semifinalist coffees that score well through the national rounds of the COE competition — which take place prior to international judging — yet don’t quite meet the COE mark will be available through a simple online bidding process following the COE auctions.
All of this supports the COE program’s longstanding goals of celebrating and honoring producers for high quality coffee, while developing a premium market channel for which those producers can be adequately compensated for their achievements. The prized COE coffees routinely fetch premium prices at COE auctions. Last year, a Geisha coffee grown by Marysabel Garcia Caballero from the El Puente farm in La Paz, Honduras, broke the COE auction record, fetching $120.50 USD per pound.
“Every year coffees change and we delight in the discovery of new flavors and approaches,” said Daniel, who served as a COE judge for years before assuming the executive director role. “This year will be especially thrilling, given that it has been two years since El Salvador, Nicaragua and Mexico held a Cup of Excellence competition.”
(Update: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that COE coffees that that score 90 or higher are considered Cup of Excellence Award finalists. The award is given to coffees that score 86 or higher.)