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F1 Hybrids Excel at the 2018 Nicaragua Cup of Excellence

cup of excellence coffee judging cupping tasting

The international jury at the 2018 Nicaragua Cup of Excellence competition. Photo by Ariel Flores, courtesy of Alliance for Coffee Excellence.

From an initial pool of 214 farmers submitting lots of coffees to the annual Nicaragua Cup of Excellence competition, 35 have been named winners, ranging in score from 86.69 to 91.80, according to a COE international jury. All winning lots will be available at a Tuesday, June 5, auction.

The growing regions of Matagalpa, Jinotega and Nueva Segovia were all well represented in the competition, with all of the top five coffees — each scoring above 90 — hailing from farms in Nueva Segovia.

The top-scoring lot came from the farm of Luis Alberto Balladares, La Bendicion, featuring a natural-process Red Pacamara variety. Gonzalo Adán Castillo Moreno’s farm Las Promesas de San Blas placed second for the second year straight with a honey-process F1 hybrid variety called Centroamericano. The variety — a cross between between the rust-resistant T5296 variety and the Ethiopian landrace variety Rume Sudan — was developed by a consortium of researchers and Central American farmer support groups and has been publicly available for only the past two years. (World Coffee Research has more on the variety’s availability here.)

The Centroamericano F1 hybrid. World Coffee Research photo.

In fact, four of the top 11 coffees at this year’s Nicaragua COE were derived from an F1 hybrid program, according to COE organizer the Alliance for Coffee Excellence. F1 hybrids are the first-generation offspring of two different parental types. Researchers in the coffee sector have been exploring F1 hybrids as alternatives to traditional cultivation methods in the hopes of developing more plant types that are resistant to leaf rust, other diseases, pests and climatic changes, while also offering higher yields and higher quality.

cup of excellence coffee judging cupping tasting

Photo by Ariel Flores, courtesy of Alliance for Coffee Excellence.

“The range shows spectacular examples of both traditional Nicaraguan coffees and also some remarkable different profiles that are sure to please,” Nicaragua COE Head Judge and Carrboro Coffee Roasters President Scott Conary said in an announcement regarding the competition results. “These are the types of coffees I get excited to share with the judges.”