Cup of Excellence celebrates 20th anniversary

Cup of Excellence anniversary

The Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) and its flagship program Cup of Excellence (COE) were honoured in a celebration recognising the 20th anniversary of the competition and auction program.

The ACE says in this time, COE has discovered incredible coffees, micro regions no one knew existed, and brought international fame to individual farmers. While Brazil is the longest running program to date, COE has been established in multiple coffee producing countries. Bidders have paid up to US$300 per pound for winning coffees, resulting in a combined US$60 million going to farmers from COE auctions.

“The program is still in its infancy given the long history of coffee growing,” ACE Executive Director Darrin Daniel says.

“The 20th anniversary reminds us of all of the impact this work has had in many countries, but we are nowhere finished. The competition has just begun to scratch the surface of possibilities in flavour, quality, and premiums. Our newest partner, Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee launches in 2020 and promises to push the quality envelope even further.”

Susie Spindler, Founder and now Advisor calls the so-called ‘Olympics of Coffee’ fundamentally changed the specialty coffee industry, an sentiment echoed by buyers and judges in the auction.

“Not only has this program busted through the top price barrier for rare and hand-crafted coffees but it pushed enough transparency into the distribution system that roasters from around the globe are able to build long term buying relationships with coffee farmers. Almost any consumer buying farm identified coffee owes this to the COE program,” says Nolan Hirte, Owner of Proud Mary Coffee Roasters.

“It has been such an incredible experience to be a part of this Brazil international jury. Hearing the founders’ stories of how it began and the challenges they had to overcome to even be heard is amazing. We don’t realise that the pioneers before us shaped our future. To that we owe so much. I am forever grateful and will continue to challenge and push this industry to grow and change for the better.”

The COE competition has benefited from more than 4500 jurors, hailing from every continent, who ACE says have created a shared common language for great coffees. Non-government organisations, government agencies, and universities have studied the COE structure and mission to further their own economic development of coffee and other specialized agricultural products

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Image credit: Tony Chen

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