Slurping and Spitting 96 Times an Hour.
And the winner is … Finca La Estrella.
I just returned from Costa Rica as a Cup of Excellence® Judge. As mentioned in last month’s Coffee Chronicle, The Cup of Excellence® is a non-profit organization founded by a small group of dedicated coffee experts who, in partnership with source countries, conduct a competition and auction as a way to discover phenomenal coffees and financially reward the coffee farmer. As promised, here is the latest coffee news that may be of interest….
I first served on this distinguished panel of judges in 2005. Cup of Excellence® is a discovery mechanism for finding the purest coffees in a particular coffee growing region. The coffee must be free of defects and taints while exhibiting the most desirable characteristics of the country of origin. I joined judges from New Zealand, Australia, Russia, Germany, Norway, USA, Costa Rica and Brazil. One of the Costa Rican cuppers was Enid Esquivel, who is the Quality Assurance cupper for our flagship Monte Crisol coffee. She qualified for the Jury as one of the 3 best cuppers in Costa Rica. It was an honor serving with Enid.
As the International Judges, we started the week with 60 coffees submitted to us by a National Jury of Costa Rican cuppers. We are required to cup up to 3 times per day between 8 and 10 sets of 4 cups of each coffee. That means we are slurping and spitting a minimum of 96 times over an hour each time you address a table. By weeks end, the final selection of coffees going to auction (graded at 84/100 or higher at each stage) has been cupped by the jury 3 times. Unusual about this COE was the extra high caliber of coffees. Often coffees get bounced out early, but by Thursday, the final day before the top 10 selected for Friday’s final cupping, there were still 45 coffees in contention. The final number of coffees going to auction will be 31!
The auction is scheduled for June 21. We will secure, import and roast a winning coffee for availability in late August. Stay tuned as, once again, we have the pleasure of bringing you the world’s best coffees.
Why participate as a juror?
Each juror has his or her own story. For me, being a juror is one of the most important things I can do to serve you, our trusted Customers. It is my job to source tremendous coffee for you. And while serving with coffee people dedicated to excellence in their work and in their relationships, we share and learn from each other. Sure we talk about coffee and our businesses but we develop long-standing friendships. Reconnecting with the many farmers who have grown our coffee over the years, along with Jeremy Torz from England (whom I met at the Rwanda COE) and Ruben Sagastume (with whom I served at the Nicaragua COE) is a reminder of how interconnected we all are.
Finally the original concept behind COE was that coffee, like wine, when at its best, can be extra ordinary. Over the years COE has proven that in an industry producing an awfully large amount of commercial quality product and filler, there can be something magnificent and truly special. And that, my friends, is why they call it ‘specialty coffee’.
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