Cup of Excellence celebrates 25 years

A year-long celebration of the 25th anniversary of the first Cup of Excellence competition and online coffee auction begins during the April SCA conference in Chicago to be held 12-14 April.

Several Cup of Excellence presentations and seminars over the conference weekend will focus on its impact in coffee producing countries, coffee quality, specific winning farmers and how roasters have successfully sold these coffees at a higher price.

With almost 200 competitions held to date, tens of thousands of coffees have been entered by farmers in 16 countries and scored by several thousand experienced national and international jurors.

The 5,254 coffee lots that have won and been sold at auction have grossed over 80 million US dollars, most of which has been returned to these winning farmers. Adding to this is the indirect impact that the competition has brought to its partner countries through farmer- roaster relationships, higher premiums, regional recognition and greater overall quality.

The practice of blending high quality with medium or lower quality has been reduced in the countries holding a competition as farmers realised the value of the coffee they were producing. The competition gives farmers an incentive to push for innovation even in processing.

Erwin Mierisch, the executive director of ACE and COE, a winning farmer himself and a former head judge explained, “Thinking back over the years, it is truly amazing the vast number of international and national cuppers that have all worked together using the same scoring protocols. Still the most stringent competition ever created for coffee or maybe any agricultural product, a common vocabulary for quality and a strict set of sample preparation techniques are now the norm for many in the industry.”

“It is fitting that this celebration begins at an SCA conference since the first auction platform was built in 1999 by the then SCAA webmaster and was held on the SCAA website,” commented Susie Spindler, founder, long-time executive director and now advisor. “Chicago is where my coffee career began many years ago and I am very proud to celebrate this important milestone in the city where I first experienced that not all coffees are the same.”

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