What is the Cup of Excellence?
Within this article I will attempt to tell you what the cup of excellence is and why it should matter to you. I will also attempt to let you know why it is so important to me and to Has Bean Coffee.
Cup of excellence is a stringent selection process and competition currently held in seven south American countries. The aim of the competition is to find true coffee excellence and the best coffee from that country for that harvest. This is done by first of all using a team of people involved in coffee in the producing country to select the best of the entered samples. This can range from a three hundred to over nine hundred samples. These will be cupped on taste quality and only the best will pass through this selection process.
From this around sixty samples are put forward to an international jury. the jury is selected from all around the world, and are some of the most influential coffee buyers in the world. This is not related to size but to the quality of the coffee and there cupping skills. These jurors will cup all of these coffee's once, and this will be blind (without information of the sample. Whilst cupping them they will be evaluated, and these scores complied by an external auditor to show transparency and fairness. All coffee's that score over 84 (the highest being a 100), will go through to the second stage of cupping. The amount that go to this stage varies but can be from 20-45. These coffee's are scored again, and any not getting over 84, will go forth to an Internet auction. The top ten from this second round will then be cupped again. This cupping determines their place in the final auction.
Any coffee's that go to auction, can truly be called a cup of excellence. It is odds of just 2-3% of a coffee being entered to going to auction. So you can be sure a cup of excellence coffee is something special. If at any point of the competition there is any defect found with the crop then it is rejected. This can even happen at the top ten stage, where a coffee destined to win can be rejected (and has been) because it is not perfect.
When the coffee makes that auction, it means that the farmer will be rewarded financially. The price paid at the is auction is many times higher than any other avenue the farmer has access too. In the Brazil 2005 auction one bean went for 49.75 a lb FOB which is nearly 40 times the highest price pays a fair trade farmer. This is because its good and not with any charity ideas. Surely a more sustainable way of providing a “fair” price to the farmer, and making sure the consumer gets a good deal too.
So when the cup of excellence label is seen, it means just that. The best of the best for that year from that country. It is also a tool to reward the hard work of the farmer by paying a much higher price.