Guatemala Cup of Excellence
By now you all should know that it takes an extreme amount of effort to produce an exemplary coffee. Hundreds of hours of preparation and thousands of kilometers of transport can be ruined by the slightest wrong move. The Cup of Excellence program is a discerning process that finds coffees of the highest quality, and awards producers for their dedication to quality. It is probably the most recognized certification for Specialty coffee quality worldwide, and is, in my opinion, by far the most prestigious. It involves an intense amount quality assessment, followed by a worldwide internet auction that claims astronomical prices for coffees. For instance, two years ago the top ranked coffee in Guatemala received a record setting $80.20 per pound!
Cup of Excellence is open to every coffee grower and cooperative from a participating country. A producer first enters their coffee into a national competition in which cuppers from that country assess the quality. If a coffee passes through the initial round of judging with a high enough score, it moves onto an international jury. The international jury is constructed with the idea that a cupping panel should have very diverse, but distinguished, tastes. This is to ensure that a coffee score isn't artificially elevated because of one region's specific taste index. The 2010 Guatemalan Cup of Excellence international jury consisted of roughly 25 cuppers from Japan, USA, Canada, Russia, Germany, Brazil, South Korea, Norway, New Zealand and Lithuania. Sure enough, there were some coffees that I found were not of "Cup of Excellence quality" but that another jury member thought was exemplary, and vice versa.
A coffee receives a final score when all of the individual scores are averaged. Because of the diversity of scores, buying participants in the CoE program like us don't really pay attention to the overall rank of the coffee. We do our own assessment of the samples and find our own favorites. This is partially why over the years Gimme! has purchased a #7 Nicaragua lot, or a #32 Honduras lot or a #19 El Salvador lot, etc.
This year, the top lot was certainly deserving, but not my favorite. I'd also like you all to taste the top scoring lots from this year's Cup of Excellence Guatemala competition. The auction is on Thursday July 14th, so would like to offer you a chance to cup my favorite coffees of the auction on Saturday July 17th, 10am sharp in the State St. training lab. Then, stay for the weekly free public cupping at noon. Hope to see you there!