After discovering quality coffees and a healthy demand among international buyers, the green coffee competition of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is returning for a second year — this time with an online auction.
The nonprofit Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) announced yesterday that the auction will take place in late May following the competition later this month. The specific date and auction platform had not been released as of this writing.
The coffee program is part of a larger, multi-year intergovernmental effort to strengthen Lao PDR’s agricultural sector while promoting economic growth and international trade.
CQI is applying its coffee connections and expertise to the coffee project, which is part of the United States Department of Agriculture-funded CLEAN project, being implemented by the nonprofit Winrock International in coordination with Lao PDR federal agencies and the Laos Coffee Association (LCA).
The inaugural Lao PDR green coffee competition last year saw coffees that scored well into the mid-80s, including both arabica and robusta varieties. This year, an auction component is being made possible through the Arise Plus Laos PDR project, funded by the European Union and implemented by the International Trade Centre.
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“This year we are a little more experienced, with another year of good coffee practices under our belt, and we know that this competition will benefit coffee growers by discerning some truly wonderful coffees,” Winrock International’s Alex Dahan said in yesterday’s announcement. “The competition has proven to be a valuable process to motivate producers to improve their quality and promote their coffees to specialty buyers. The addition of a professional online auction will make this year’s event more impactful.”
Coffees for the competition will initially be screened and organized by Yuni Coffee Co., a company based in the northeast Lao province of Houaphan that has been roasting, selling and promoting Lao-grown coffees since 2015.
Potential auction coffees will then be further screened by a group of international judges coordinated by CQI. CQI Senior Director of Operations Lisa Conway said the group initially hoped to hold the auction in person this year, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated remote programming. Two competitions will now involve two international judging hubs, one in Dubai (UAE), and the other in the U.S.
“The judges will receive the coded samples from Laos, be calibrated by CQI and then get to work tasting and ranking the samples,” Conway said. “We anticipate 50 specialty arabica and fine robusta samples this year. We want this competition to shine a spotlight on the coffee produced by Lao farmers. They produce great coffee, but it is almost unknown outside of Laos. It’s time to change that.”
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