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Top Coffee from Guatemala Cup of Excellence Earns $180 Per Pound at Auction


Trophies from the 2020 Guatemala Cup of Excellence awards in June. Photo courtesy of the Alliance for Coffee Excellence.

Buyers primarily from Asia, Europe and the United States shattered previous price records at the recent Guatemala Cup of Excellence auction, with an average per-pound price of $26.50 USD across 30 different lots of green coffee.

The top-scoring coffee, a washed Gesha variety from the El Socorro farm, was sold to a consortium of buyers at a Guatemala COE record high of $180.20 per pound.

It’s an astronomical number, especially considering how gravely the retail coffee industry has suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic, and how producers on a global level have been confronted with a prolonged price crisis on top of COVID-19 shocks.

If nothing else, the auction shows how widely buyers are still willing to open their wallets at the very highest end of the specialty coffee industry.

“I believe Guatemalan coffee is rich in flavor variety and the coffee produced by El Socorro symbolizes that,” Kentaro Maruyama, CEO and founder of Japan’s Maruyama Coffee and Guatemala Cup of Excellence Global Coffee Center Judge, said in announcement released by COE organizer the Alliance for Coffee Excellence. “I was thrilled by this outstanding coffee and scored it 97.5 points. It’s exactly like an all-star of flavors in one cup. Everyone in our buying group was beyond excited for this lot and desperate to win the bid. We are delighted to be able to purchase this coffee.”

Aurelio Villatoro of Finca Villaure La Esperanza watching auction

Aurelio Villatoro of Finca Villaure La Esperanza watching the Guatemala Cup of Excellence auction. Photo courtesy of the Alliance for Coffee Excellence.

Maruyama was part of a group of buyers purchasing the top coffee, along with U.S. roasting companies Puff Coffee, Goodboybob Coffee, Cometeer, Bird Rock Coffee Roasters and PT’s Coffee. Maruyama, Cometeer and Goodboybob have purchased a share of the top lot in every Cup of Excellence auction thus far in 2020.

A second half of the winning lot was purchased by Momos Coffee on behalf of 2019 World Barista Champion Jooyeon Jeon.

“Farmers are completely happy and never expected the prices that were achieved. This is a success, not only for El Socorro, but for the country as well as achieving an average price per pound above $26.00,” El Socorro farm representative Juan Diego de la Cerda said in the ACE announcement. “We (El Socorro) have been participating in the Cup of Excellence program since 2007, and from then on, only two years we did not reach the auction. The experience has been very nice from the beginning. It has helped us to strengthen relationships with clients, some now that are over 10 years old.”