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Best of Cauca Auction a Model for Coffee Success in Colombian Post-Conflict Zones

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Coffee buyer Joel Pollock, owner of Panther Coffee, Miami, Fl with the winner of the Best of Cauca coffee festival Israel Moncayo Salazar, from the municipality of Sotora, Cauca. Photo courtesy of Boot Coffee.

Among the numerous regional events being held to promote specialty coffee cultivation and quality in Colombia’s post-conflict zones is the growing Best of Cauca festival and auction, now in its fifth year.

Organizers of the annual event hope that the increased access and exposure to new markets provided by the platform will continue to encourage farmers to continue producing coffee over illicit crops, primarily coca.

Taking place last month, the 2018 Best of Cauca was organized by the Comité de Cafeterias del Cauca, with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Producers to Market Alliance (PMA), Dutch coffee trader Trabocca, and Almacafé.

The event attracted coffee buyers from around the world, including representatives from Catacion Publica (Colombia), Latina (South Korea), Trabocca (Netherlands/USA), Gold Rush Coffee (USA), Panther Coffee (USA); Boot Koffie (Netherlands); Cargaduana Lta (Colombia); and Saza Coffee (Japan).

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Coffee buyer Barend Boot, owner of Boot Koffie, in Baarn, The Netherlands, with third-placeBest of Cauca winner Maria Reinalda Chinduicue from Paez, Cauca. Photo courtesy of Boot Coffee.

San Rafael, California-based Boot Coffee — hired by USAID to work in post-conflict zones throughout Colombia to promote the trade and production of specialty coffee — said that the company will be working on similar projects in other Colombian Departments epartments, including Meta and Caqueta.

“The recent success of the Cauca coffee auction proves that this region is key to specialty coffee,” Willem Boot, owner of Boot Coffee, told Daily Coffee News. “Our collaboration with Trabocca offers unique sourcing opportunities to roasters who seek new origins within Colombia.”

Assisting with the event were Astrid Elizabeth Bonilla and Pedro Felipe Giraldo, local Q Graders who are both working as full-time cuppers in Cauca. Quality specialist and Boot Coffee consultant Jaime Duque served as head judge for the regional contest. A total of 126 lots were entered, out of which 14 lots were selected for the live auction on August 19, held in the town of Timbio with hundreds of coffee producers looking on.

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Israel Moncayo Salazar, Best of Cauca 2018 first place winner. Photo courtesy of Panther Coffee / Facebook.

With a total cup score of 88.33, the top coffee was a washed arabica from Finca Loma el Marcelo — a small, sustainability-minded farm in the municipality of Sotora, Cauca — produced by Israel Moncayo Salazar and his family.

The winning bid came from coffee buyer Joel Pollock of Panther Coffee, adding to the auction’s final proceeds of $71,379 USD and resulting in a total premium of $46,826 USD over the prevailing New York C Arabica price.