The Cup of Excellence Program
The Cup of Excellence is the most esteemed award given out for top coffees. These awards come from a strict competition that selects the very best coffee produced in that country for that particular year. These winning coffees are chosen by a select group of national and international cuppers and are cupped at least five different times during the competition process. Only coffees that continuously score high enough are allowed to move forward in the competition. The final winners are awarded the prestigious Cup of Excellence® and sold to the highest bidder during an internet auction.
What makes these coffees so special?
Coffees of this exemplary quality are very rare. These coffees are perfectly ripe, carefully picked with well developed body, pleasant aroma and a lively sweetness that only extremely high quality specialty coffees contain. Each winning coffee has its own flavor signature from the earth where it grows and all have been handcrafted in such a way as to enhance these unique characteristics.
How Many Coffees are awarded The Cup of Excellence®?
The number of coffees given this prestigious award depends entirely on the quality of the entrants. The requirements are so strict that very few coffees from a country are honored in this way.
Who buys these winning coffees?
Coffee connoisseurs worldwide with discerning palates who appreciate the complex flavor and aromatics found in a world class coffee buy and savor these winners. The roaster who buys these coffees cares about providing the highest quality to his customers as well as creating a direct relationship with the winning farmer. The winning coffees are sold at an internet auction to the highest bidder about 5 weeks after the competition winners are announced and samples of the coffees have been sent out.
How important is this award to a coffee farmer?
Winning farmers are exhilarated to be acknowledged for their dedication to quality. Not only is the farmer given a prestigious award during a national ceremony but the majority of the record prices at auction go back to the producers who deserve and need it. In addition the farmer is now recognized in the industry as being a quality producer. A winning farm and often the whole region can expect to receive future visits from roasters looking to buy more quality coffee for their companies. The positive impact on the quality of life for a winning farmer and his family is permanent as the auction money will often be spent on farm improvements or family education which can change their economic livelihood for the long term even if they do not win every year.
Who started the Cup of Excellence® competition?
Cup of Excellence was started by a group of dedicated coffee connoisseurs who along with international governmental support and NGOs thought that a competition and auction was an effective way to recognize farmers monetarily for their hard work and effort. It is now known that in addition to this the discovery of unknown and yet phenomenal coffees creates an excitement among roasters and consumers that is unparalleled. As multiple coffee producing countries have joined the program they are sharing beneficial information with each other and the supporting roasters have created a kind of Cup of Excellence family.
Why is Cup of Excellence® important?
The Cup of Excellence fundamentally changes what we know is possible in an exemplary coffee. For years great coffees have been blended away creating a commodity that while good tends to taste fairly uniform with very little recognition of the individual farmer or of the unique flavor profiles that can be present with different varieties and from different micro climates.
For the roasters and importers who support Cup of Excellence this program has often introduced to their businesses a new demographic of customers who are appreciative of top quality and willing to pay a premium for it. For consumers the Cup of Excellence award label is a guarantee that this is top coffee that has been judged by professional cuppers to be the best. Often these award-winning coffees are so good that consumers expectations of what a coffee can taste like are definitely exceeded. The payment to the coffee farmers for their coffee is more than Fair. There is no other program that is as exciting for the coffee lover, the roasters and especially the farmers whose monetary reward often changes the lives of their entire family and the rural communities where they live.
The Cup of Excellence program builds the bridge between the high quality farmer, the high quality trade and eventually the consumer who finds coffees he truly loves and at the same time knows that the farmer has been well compensated.
Cup of Excellence builds international relationships in many forms. It creates a situation where cooperation is the key to success, where appreciation is the mantra and where friendships and lasting partnerships are built. It is one of the few programs that puts its main focus on individual empowerment, training and education with no consideration of gender or economic status.