India’s Jumboor Estate wins the 2021 Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award

David Brussa; Andrea Illy; Anna Illy; Lily Cole; Massimiliano Pogliani; Alessandro Bucci. Image courtesy of illycaffè

illycaffè announced the winner of the 6th Annual Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award (EIICA) in a virtual ceremony that took place today (2 December 2021). Since 2016, the EIICA has been given to the producer of the best sustainable coffee among 27 of the highest quality coffee producers participating from nine of the most significant coffee growing countries.

The 2021 EIICA winner is Jumboor Estate in India, represented by BM Nachappa, and voted ‘Best of the Best’ by an independent panel of international culinary and coffee experts. The ‘Coffee Lover’s Choice’ award, designated by a panel of consumers through a blind tasting organised in select illy cafés worldwide, was given to Proyecto Lift Olopita in Guatemala, represented by Alfonso Urbina Perlata. In all, there were 27 finalists – three from each of the nine countries – from Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, and Nicaragua.

The international panel – comprised of three-star Michelin chefs Kyle Connaughton, Vicky Geunes and Niko Romito; journalists Josè Carlos Capel, Clark Parkin and Michela Proietti; and coffee experts Sunalini Menon, Birhanu Gebis Wuli and Henry Alirio Martínez Salinas – chose India’s Jumboor Estate as the ‘Best of the Best,’ describing it as an “intense coffee that leaves a silky, delicate and soft sensation on the palate enhanced by notes of chocolate, caramel, citrus fruit, walnuts and a hint of fruit.”

Jumboor Estate is located in the plateaus of India’s northern Coorg district, at an elevation of 950-1000 meters in an area of rich organic soils. Established in 1870, this 390-hectare estate cultivates only Arabica coffee and produces ‘Jumboor Gold,’ a high-quality Yellow Bourbon Arabica variety. In order not to interfere with the flow of pure water from the nearby mountains, which is used during coffee processing, the areas adjacent to watercourses have been left in their natural state, without any crops being grown there.

“This is the first time that India won the Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award. This is a country where coffee is grown under the shade of tall trees, usually together with other crops such as peppercorns, vanilla, cardamom, and cinnamon. I am very happy that the prestigious ‘Best of the Best’ award was assigned to a product that is grown in a virtuous manner, demonstrating the potential of this agricultural model as a way to achieve sustainable quality,” said Andrea Illy, chairman of Trieste, Italy-based illycaffè, adding, “the recognition of Guatemala, which with its group of small producers participating in the Lift project won the consumers’ choice award for best coffee, also proves that quality continues to be an important engine to drive sustainable growth among coffee communities.”

Proyecto Lift Olopita, which won the ‘Coffee Lovers’ Choice’ award, was established in 2017 in Guatemala with the goal of bringing together small coffee growers interested in learning about the best farming practices to produce high-quality coffee. So far, this project has brought together 112 families of coffee producers who receive constant training and support on the part of the technical department of Mercon Guatemala, a coffee exporter of which illy is a partner, to help them become full-fledged managers of their family businesses, ensuring better prices for their sustainably produced coffee.

The Coffee Lover’s Choice award is chosen by a panel of consumers, not the international panel of experts. Prior to the award ceremony, Massimiliano Pogliani, CEO of illy, said that the company created the Coffee Lover’s Choice award to include consumers because they play a key role in coffee. “In the end, the consumers are the ones who decide which coffee is going to sell so it is important to include them.”

After the EIICA winner was announced, Andrea Illy thanked all the producers for participating and expressed hope that the 2022 event will be held in person, not virtually.

The event, which was held online for a second consecutive year, was hosted by Lily Cole, a model, actress and sustainability activist. Starting this afternoon (2 December), the video of the awards ceremony will be available on the illy website.

The 27 finalists are listed below, ranked first to third place within their respective countries:


Fazenda Agua Viva – José Marques de Araujo

Fazenda Fonte Alta – Maria Claudia Porto

Fazenda Sitio Daniella I – Daniella Romano Pelosini


Cabildo Coffee Project, Jambaló – Aracely Vitonco

Women Coffee Project, Caldono – Griceldina Quinayas

Intergenerational Coffee Project, Piendamó – Gerardo Arroyo

Costa Rica

Marespi SA – Johnny Marín Badilla

Coopesabalito RL – Warner Quesada Elizondo

Coope Atenas RL – Juan Carlos Alvarez Ulate

El Salvador

Finca Agua Caliente – José Ernesto Borja Papini

Finca La Providencia – Fernando Alfaro

Finca La Concordia – Carlos Antonio Borja


Gera Estate – Alemayehu Dagne Asma

International Business Pvt Ltd Co – Seada Shifa

Bechu International Trading Pvt Ltd Co – Darmyelesh Bechere


Proyecto Lift Olopita – Alfonso Urbina Peralta

Finca Joya Grande – Jovita Castillo

Finca Peña Blanca – Pablo Chuy Flores


Finca El Cedrón – Gerardo López

Cocasancol – David García

Finca Los Liquidambar – José Humberto Ardón Pérez


Jumboor Estate – BM Nachappa

Buskull Estate – Balaraju

Hallihithloo Estate – Mahesh Gowda


Proyecto Lift – Holman Vicente Rivera Herrera

Finca Santa Isabel – Osman Gregorio Gutiérrez Moreno

Finca California – José Neftali Arauz Herrera

The Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award is named after Ernesto Illy, a pioneer of virtuous collaboration with farmers to produce sustainable quality. The EIICA aims to celebrate and reward the best coffee suppliers for the attention and passion they dedicate every day to their work and renew the illy’s commitment to improving the lives of producers and to realise the dream of offering the best coffee in the world. Every year, illycaffè’s quality lab selects the best batches of coffee based on quality and sustainability parameters. The best three producers for each country were selected to take part as finalists for the 2021 EIICA to compete for first place in their respective countries and become one of the nine finalists for the international competition. An independent panel of international experts participated in a blind tasting of the finalists. The coffees were analysed under several different brewing methods – espresso, moka, drip coffee and filter coffee – and the winner was selected because of the richness and complexity of the aroma, the elegance and balance of flavours and the intensity of the aroma.

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