Brazil’s São Mateus Agropecuaria wins top award at the 2023 EIICA

São Mateus Agropecuaria of Brazil wins the 2023 Best of the Best Award, which was presented to Josè Eduardo Dominicale during the 8th edition of the Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award (EIICA).

The award, named after the visionary leader of illycaffè and the son of the company’s founder, celebrates the work that the Trieste, Italy-based company has been doing every day for the last 30 years, side-by-side with coffee farmers, to offer the best possible sustainable coffee. The award was presented to the winner by illycaffè chairman Andrea Illy during an event held at the New York Public Library in New York.

EIICA celebrates the finest Arabica coffees sourced from all over the world. This event aims to recognize growers for the quality coffee they tirelessly work to produce. The award was assigned by an independent panel of nine experts who examined the best batches from the 2022-2023 harvest through a blind tasting of nine coffees from the nine finalist countries: Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Nicaragua, and Rwanda. Prior to being evaluated by the panel, each batch of coffee was analysed by illycaffè’s quality control labs and rated in terms of richness and aromatic complexity, the elegance and balance of its flavour and intensity of its aroma.

Guatemala’s Finca Danilandia di Luis Arimany Mondonico won the Coffee Lovers’ Choice Award, assigned by a panel of consumers who, in the weeks prior to the event, carried out blind taste tests of the coffee samples in illy cafés in Trieste, Milan, Paris, London, Sao Paolo and New York and ranked their preferences.

“The absolute victory of the Brazilian coffee coming from regenerative agriculture – chosen blindly among the nine best coffees in the world – fills me with joy. Indeed, the history of the Ernesto Illy Award began in Brazil in 1991 and this confirms that the rewards received, by illycaffè for having transformed Brazil from a leader in quantity to a leader in quality are well-deserved,” said Andrea Illy. “After more than 25 years of neverending and tireless work by our team of agronomists and the University of Coffee, the leap has finally happened thanks to regenerative agriculture, which we decided to develop in 2018 for the benefits it brings to the environment and everyone’s health.”

The panel that voted for the Best of the Best award included Guatemala’s professional taster Silvia Escobar; the President of Federação dos Cafeicultores do Cerrado, Brasilian Glaucio De Castro; the director of the CoffeeLab quality laboratory, Indian Sunalini Narayan Menon; chef Ricard Camarena, who has been awarded two Michelin stars and a green star for his dedication to sustainability at his Ricard Camarena Restaurant in Valencia; American chefs Carrie and Rupert Blease, who manage the Michelin-starred Lord Stanley restaurant in San Francisco; Andrea Aprea, a Michelin-starred chef with a restaurant bearing his name in Milan; French writer and journalist Adelaide de Clermont-Tonnere, editor-in-chief of Point de Vue magazine; Inga Griese, founder and editor-in-chief of ICON, the style supplement of the German newspaper Welt Am Sonntag; Angelina Villa Clarke, a journalist contributing to prestigious English-language publications including Forbes.

Commenting on the winning coffee, the jury said, “This year’s Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award winner is a rounded, wholesome, and fully bodied cup, with rich yet mellow flavors of a balance of chocolate, caramel, brown sugar, and toasted almonds on a bed of refined brightness, with a lingering finish of mild, gentle, yet harmonious sweetness. It truly represents the finest taste characteristics of its origin.”

Martha Stewart, Matilda De Angelis, Pat Cleveland, Coco Rocha, Candela Pelizza, Tamu Mc Pherson, Carlo Sestini, Simon and Marina Ksandr, Nick Lowry, Tesa Pesic are some of the celebrities who attended the gala event at the New York Public Library, hosted by chef and TV star Marcus Samuelsson, to celebrate the best coffee producers who work behind the unique illy blend.

The Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award is also an unmissable networking opportunity for all those involved in the coffee industry, from producers to exporters, from traders to institutional representatives. In the morning they all met at the United Nations Headquarters to attend a panel discussion on protecting the future of coffee. Alongside illycaffè chairman Andrea Illy, speakers included Vanusia Nogueira, executive director, International Coffee Organization; Jeffrey Sachs, professor of economy at Columbia University and co-chair at the Regenerative Society Foundation; Oscar Schaps, president of the Latin American division of Stone X Financial Inc; and Glaucio de Castro, president of the Federação dos Cafeicultores do Cerrado Mineiro. (For a full recap of the event at the UN, see the Editor’s Blog: “The time is now” to invest in regenerative agriculture (

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