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Costa Rican Growers Wow Judges with Variety at 2020 Cup of Excellence

Josue & don Hector

Josue and Don Héctor Bonilla, who submitted the top coffee in the 2020 Costa Rica Cup of Excellence. Photo courtesy of ACE.

Twenty six coffees representing a wide array of coffee varieties and processing methods from three of Costa Rica’s main growing regions have won 2020 Cup of Excellence awards.

All three of the top coffees — a honey-process Gesha, a honey-process Typica and a washed Gesha — hailed from the famous Tarrazú region, where 9 of the 26 winners were grown. Winning coffees also hailed from Occidental (14) and Valle Central (3).

All 26 of the winning lots are heading to an auction on Wednesday, Aug. 5. A group of 14 “National Winners,” those coffees scoring between 86-86.99, are heading to auction on Aug. 3-21.

The top-scoring coffee in the competition (90.27) was a honey-process Gesha submitted by the father and son team of Héctor and Josue Bonilla of the farm Don Mayo La Loma. Héctor Bonilla also won the competition’s top spot back in 2009, according to CoE manager the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE).

“In this time of pandemic where only bad news is received, this is really an incentive to keep going,” Héctor Bonilla said in an announcement shared by ACE. “I think of the saying, ‘it is never darker than before dawn.’ Let’s go ahead and work hard; agriculture is pride for countries that are capable of producing.”

This was the fourth 2020 CoE competition to utilize ACE-sanctioned Global Cupping Centers in order to utilize an experienced international jury while still obeying travel restrictions and social-distancing guidelines. Finalist coffees were shipped to judges throughout the globe, rather than having judges congregate in Costa Rica as they typically would.

One of those judges is Yunson Lee, the coffee buyer for Terarosa Coffee in South Korea, who commented, “Costa Rica Cup of Excellence is a showcase for coffee buyers. By variety and by processing, farmers in Costa Rica always try to do something new. This year’s competition had so many different and exotic coffees, showing new approaches to things. Most of the coffee is very unique and special which made it difficult to score.”

Here is the list of upcoming CoE auctions.