Coffee: how the Cup of Excellence works to evaluate quality


Coffee: how the Cup of Excellence works to evaluate quality

The Cup of Excellence is a competition format dedicated to coffee, with the dual purpose of supporting producers and increasing the quality of coffee.

The Cup of Excellence (CoE) is a competition format devised by the Alliance for Coffee Excellence, designed to support the education and development of coffee farmers . It is a program with a dual objective: to make the complex coffee chain more transparent but above all fairer towards farmers and at the same time to increase the quality of the coffee . It is held every year in the countries that are the largest coffee producers. The first edition took place in 1999 and to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the competition, the organizers brought the CoE back to the city where it was born, that is Lavras, in Brazil.

How does it work

specialty coffee

The competition gathers the adhesions of farmers from all over the nation. Samples from other countries are not allowed. The evaluation phase is very rigorous and is carried out by a jury made up of experts from the country where the competition takes place plus 20-25 judges from all over the world . The jury tastes all the samples through the cupping method  and evaluates them blindly. This proceeds up to a list of 30 best coffees and then 10 best coffees. These last 10 are tasted in cupping one last time and, based on the score, a winner is crowned . Each coffee in the top 10 is tasted at least 120 times, and is the secret of the CoE’s success.

Once the competition is over, the first 30 coffees are auctioned . Buyers (individuals or buying groups) and roasters from all over the world make their bids and, needless to say, the selling price is very high : the winning lots are sold to buyers all over the world at a price of 10, 20, 30 times higher than the norm.

The impact on the coffee chain

The Cup of Excellence is a large arena that showcases the best producers and connects them directly to buyers . And the impact on farmers is real: with the proceeds from sales and new business relationships established thanks to the reputation of competition, farmers can invest in better equipment, train on the job, try new methods, evolve. Thanks to the profits, the quality of the coffee grows and with it the entire sector is enriched.


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