A honey-process Gesha from Costa Rica broke the Cup of Excellence auction record for a single coffee yesterday by fetching an astounding $300.09 per pound. According to Daily Coffee News records, the previous highest-earning COE coffee was an experimental yellow Bourbon from Brazil that sold for $126.10 per pound.
The winning bid for the Costa Rican coffee — which was entered into the annual competition by Luis Ricardo Calderon Madrigal from his farm, Don Cayito — was placed by three Japanese coffee companies: Maruyama Coffee, Sarutahiko Coffee and Yamada Coffee. In fact, Maruyama Coffee has placed winning bids on the top-scoring coffees in each of the four Cup of Excellence countrywide auctions completed thus far in 2018, dropping $55.10 per pound on a lot from El Salvador, $31.60 per pound in Nicaragua, and $80.60 per pound in Honduras.
A striking example of how pricing is not a true reflection of quality in the high-end coffee auction market, Maruyama’s winning bid in Costa Rica was more than $190 above the second-highest accepted bid, which was for a split of the very same lot of coffee. In other words, the same coffee sold at the same auction with a price variation of more than $190.
For COE organizer the Alliance for Coffee Excellence and for the 36 producers who took home national COE awards, the auction was a resounding success, with a weighted average per pound price of $21.69. It’s the highest average price in the 19-year history of the COE program, and represented the second-highest grossing COE auction ever, with just shy of $830,000 in auction revenue from 582 bags of coffee sold.