COE Guatemala continues despite volcano eruption

The Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) commenced its 14th edition of the Cup of Excellence (COE) in Guatemala City on 4 June despite the Fuego volcano eruption.

When the volcano erupted on 3 June, villages and coffee farms were affected, however Anacafé and ACE took the decision to complete the final stage of the COE competition, which started months before and is the culmination of hard work from farmers and all organisations involved.  

Despite the devastation around the country, the COE international jury awarded scores 90 and above to three top coffee lots.

La Reforma y Asociados, S.A. from Finca La Reforma y Anexos placed first with 90.73 points for its washed processed Geisha coffee.

During the awards ceremony, René Pérez from the winning farm, explained that working in coffee is a family affair. His father worked in coffee, and now he and his sons have continued the tradition. He decided the enter a COE sample for the second time in eight years due to the progressing coffee crisis. René had been looking for alternative coffee niches to sell good coffee, and to cover the costs of maintaining the farm.

The second place winner, Wilfrido Hernán Perez from Finca El Zapote y Anexos scored 90.7 points with a washed processed Gesha. Third place, Monterroso Pineda José Roberto of Finca El Morito II scored 90.53 points with a washed processed Pacamara.

Farmers from all over Guatemala submitted a total 175 samples, which got narrowed down to 40 samples for the international judging week. Of those coffees, 34 coffees made it to the COE Auction, which will take place on 17 July.

The international panel represented markets from the United Kingdom, Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, United States, Australia, and Guatemala.

“To see first time entrants place so high in the competition was a real joy and a reminder that farm discovery and producer visibility form the foundations of the Cup of Excellence program,” says John Thompson, Head Judge.

“The 2018 competition showcased the diversity of coffee produced in Guatemala today, transparent washed process coffees form the majority and within this group traditional cultivars such as Bourbon and Caturra continue to show they can deliver complexity and nuance, while a range of Gesha cultivars shone with extraordinary clarity and elegance.  Honey and natural process coffees brought further exotic and intense flavour profiles to the list of winners and the full selection of coffees in the auction list offer an array of sensory profiles for buyers.”

According to Anacafé, as of June 7, the eruption of the Fuego volcano had affected approximately 5098 coffee families, directly affected 5489 manzanas of land (about 3836 hectares), and approximately 53,610 quintals of green coffee production (about 5361 tonnes), the equivalent to 1.27 per cent of the national production of exportable coffee for the crop season 2018-2019.

Anacafé’s message to the producers that have been affected with the ash rain, is to shake the plants to remove the ash from the leaves, taking care not to remove the coffee cherry. The rain has helped to wash and release the ash and sand from the leaves of coffee trees, decreasing the damage, mainly in Yepocapa and Acatenango.

It is recommended that coffee farmers irrigate, if possible, mainly in seedbeds to remove the ash that is still present and perform foliar sprays with amino acids, thereby helping coffee plants to overcome the effects of ash.

Upcoming COE 2018 auctions include México on 27 June 27, Honduras on 3 July, Costa Rica on 10 July, and Guatemala on 17 July.

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