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SCA and ACE/Cup of Excellence Enter Strategic Partnership


Representatives of the SCA, ACE and allied organizations gathered in Copenhagen. SCA press photo.

The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) and the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE)/Cup of Excellence (CoE) have entered a strategic partnership with the shared goal to “unify the approach to defining and appreciating top-quality specialty coffees.”

The partnership brings together the world’s largest coffee trade organization, headquartered in the United States and Europe, and the organizers of the world’s highest-profile green coffee competition and auction platform, Cup of Excellence.

After a memorandum-of-understanding (MoU) signing in Copenhagen in conjunction with the SCA’s World of Coffee trade show, the groups said partnership will initially explore integrating the SCA’s new Coffee Value Assessment (CVA) into the Cup of Excellence.

The CVA has been piloted by the SCA as a new set of tools and assessment types for professional coffee evaluation — eventually to replace the group’s longstanding cupping form and protocols — with a focus on removing bias.

“CoE professional head judges and staff, along with the SCA technical team, will jointly assess, refine, and adapt the CVA form to the competition, ensuring fair and impartial judging and sensory analysis of competition and auctioned coffees,” ACE/CoE and the SCA said in a joint announcement.


ACE/CoE Executive Director Erwin Mierisch (left) with SCA CEO Yannis Apostolopoulos. SCA press photo.

The groups said the partnership will also focus on education and professional coffee cupper certification, particularly for in-country CoE judges.

Approaching its 25th anniversary, the Cup of Excellence competition and auction program annually takes place in approximately a dozen coffee-producing countries. The program is designed to celebrate the producers of exceptional coffees, while creating high-end market access and capturing maximum value for producers.

CoE auctions routinely end in prices for small and special lots of traceable coffees that are exponentially higher than commodities-market prices. For example, the recent Nicaragua CoE per-pound average price was $16.90, with the top lot fetching $109 per pound.

“For too many years our organizations have walked separate paths,” ACE/CoE Executive Director Erwin Mierisch said in the joint announcement with the SCA. “This long-awaited partnership is just the beginning of the positive impact that is expected for farmers, producing countries and roasters searching for high quality.”

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