Twenty seven U.S. coffee roasting companies have been named as finalists by the Good Food Foundation in the 2018 Good Food Awards.
The awards program, now in its eighth year, celebrates food products and their makers in numerous specialty food categories not merely for quality, but for sustainable sourcing and social good. Coffee is the only product category in which the ingredients don’t need to be sourced from U.S. soil.
While the coffee company finalists hail from far and wide throughout the United States, this year’s finalists list looks like a shrine to one origin in particular: Ethiopia.
All but one of the 27 coffees listed as finalists based on blind tastings were sourced from the historic growing country, with various specific arabica-famous regions within the country also represented. The majority of the finalists are natural-process coffees. The lone outlier on the list a Peruvian coffee roasted by Chicago’s Metric Coffee, which should perhaps win a GFA on principle alone.
The reasons Ethiopia is so heavily represented on the list are potentially many, but if we may speculate, they might include:
- Ethiopia produces exceptional coffee in the first place
- Ethiopian and some other East African coffees are known to maintain their positive attributes throughout a longer shelf-life after roasting, which can come into play during competition timing
- Ethiopia lends itself particularly well to the certification requirements regarding sustainable sourcing according to the GFA evaluation criteria
- Natural process coffees often excel in coffee competition settings due to their often distinct and dramatic flavor characteristics
- Ethiopian coffees have found great success at GFAs in the past, encouraging roasters to submit them in hopes of similar results
- And/or the timing of the Ethiopian harvest season aligns well with the timing of the awards program.
Whatever the reasons may or may not be, the results are especially clear this year.
Here is the full list of 2018 GFA finalists, with the roaster’s home state listed, in the coffee category:
Andytown Coffee Roasters, Ethiopia Idido, California
Backyard Beans Coffee Company, Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Konga, Pennsylvania
Big Creek Coffee Roasters, Ethiopia Gedeb, Montana
Black Oak Coffee Roasters, Ethiopia Hambela Alaka, California
Blueprint Coffee, Ethiopia Hambela, Missouri
Caffe Ladro, Ethiopia Hambela Kirite Organic, Washington
Compelling Coffee, Ethiopia Banko Gotiti Coffee, California
Flight Coffee Co., Ethiopia Amaro Gayo, New Hampshire
Huckleberry Roasters, Ethiopia Sidama Ardi, Colorado
Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea, Organic Ethiopia Tikur Anbessa, California
JBC Coffee Roasters, Gedeb Lot 83 Ethiopia Natural, Wisconsin
Metric Coffee Company, El Willay, Peru, Illinois
Mudhouse Coffee Roasters, Limu Dabesa, Ethiopia, Virginia
Noble Coffee Roasting, Ethiopian ‘Bishan Fugu’, Oregon
Noble Coyote Coffee Roasters, Ethiopian Guji – Organic – Natural Process, Texas
Onyx Coffee Lab, Ethiopian Buku, Arkansas
OQ Coffee Co., Kayon Mountain Estate, Ethiopia, New Jersey
Ozo Coffee Roasters, Ethiopia Hambela Kirite, Colorado
Pachamama Coffee Cooperative, Organic Ethiopia Kossa Geshe & Organic Ethiopia Natural Amaro, California
Per’La Specialty Roasters, Ethiopia Shakiso, Florida
Radio Roasters Coffee, Ethiopia Organic Guji Shakiso, Georgia
Revel Coffee, Ethiopia Kayon Mountain Guji Dry, Montana
Royal Mile Coffee, Ethiopia Shakiso Mormora Farm, New Jersey
Square One Coffee, Ethiopia Shakiso Mormora, Pennsylvania
Tico Coffee Roasters, Ethiopia Gotiti, California
Topeca Coffee Roasters, Ethiopia Ardi, Oklahoma
Vashon Coffee Company, Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Natural Daniel Miju, Washington
Winners will be announced on Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, at a Good Food Awards gala in San Francisco, which will be followed by two days of consumer-friendly GFA events.