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COE Jury Completes Guatemalan Coffee Competition, Despite Volcano Eruption

The Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) commenced its 14th edition of the Cup of Excellence (COE) in Guatemala City, Guatemala on 4 June. When Fuego volcano erupted on 3 June villages and coffee farms were affected, however Anacafé and ACE took the decision to complete the final stage of the COE competition, which started months before and is the culmination of a great deal of hard work from farmers and all organizations involved. According to Anacafé, as of 7 June, the estimated damage caused by the eruption of the Fuego volcano affected 5,098 coffee families, directly affected 5,489 manzanas of land, losses in production are approximately 53,610 quintals of green coffee, equivalent to 1.27% of the national production of exportable coffee for the crop season 2018-19.

The panel represented markets from UK, Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, USA, Australia, and Guatemala. Farmers from all over the country submitted 175 samples, which got narrowed down to 40 samples for international week. From those coffees, 34 made it to the COE Auction, which will take place 17 July. Post-harvest processes and cultivars are represented among the 34 coffees.

Reflecting on his experience in Guatemala this year, John Thompson, head judge, says, “To see first time entrants place so high in the competition was a real joy and a reminder that farm discovery and producer visibility form the foundations of the Cup of Excellence program.” He says the 2018 competition showcased the diversity of coffee produced in Guatemala today, transparent washed process coffees form the majority and within this group traditional cultivars such as Bourbon and Caturra continue to show they can deliver complexity and nuance, while a range of Gesha cultivars shone with extraordinary clarity and elegance. “Honey and natural process coffees brought further exotic and intense flavour profiles to the list of winners and the full selection of coffees in the auction list offer an array of sensory profiles for buyers.”

The COE International jury awarded scores 90 and above to three top lots. La Reforma y Asociados, SA placed first with 90.73-point coffee from Finca La Reforma y Anexos with a washed processed Gesha. During the awards ceremony, René Pérez from the winning farm explained working in coffee is a family affair, his father worked in coffee, he works in coffee and his sons work in coffee. He decided the enter a sample the second time in eight years due to the progressing coffee crisis. They are looking for alternative coffee niches to sell good coffee to find an exit to the coffee crisis and to cover the costs of maintaining a coffee farm. The second-place winner, Wilfrido Hernán Perez scored 90.7 points from Finca El Zapote y Anexos with a washed processed Gesha. Monterroso Pineda José Roberto ranked third-place with Finca El Morito II with a washed processed Pacamara scoring 90.53 points.

Anacafé’s message to the producers who have been affected with the ash rain, is to shake the plants to remove the ash from the leaves, taking care not to remove the coffee cherry. The rain has helped to wash and release the ash and sand from the leaves of coffee trees, decreasing the damage, mainly in Yepocapa and Acatenango. It is recommended that coffee farmers irrigate, if possible, mainly in seedbeds to remove the ash that is still present and perform foliar sprays with amino acids, thereby helping coffee plants to overcome the effects of ash.

Upcoming COE 2018 auctions include: México (27 June), Honduras (3 July), Costa Rica (10 July), and Guatemala (17 July).

Alliance for Coffee Excellence is a Portland, Oregon-based non-profit global membership organization dedicated to advancing excellence in coffee. Cup of Excellence, a program which gives out the most prestigious award in coffee, has affected thousands of farmers. For more information about membership, juries and to register for the Cup of Excellence or national winning samples and their auctions, visit: allianceforcoffeeexcellence.org.

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