The Cup of Excellence™, was created in 1999. It is a program designed to help break the commodity/price cycle in the specialty coffee industry. It has two parts: a rigorous competition identifying the best single-origin coffees of a country’s harvest followed by a web auction of these coffees to coffee roasters worldwide. The competitions are held in the participant producing countries. Stringent three-stage yearly competitions are held in each of these countries to find the very best, specially prepared, boutique lots of coffee. The third stage of the competition involves an international jury composed of Specialty coffee buyers from around the world (judges from the 2002 Brazil competition, for instance, were from: Finland, Norway, Holland, France, Greece, England, Italy, the USA, India, Australia and Japan). Only a few lots win each year.
Not only has the Cup of Excellence™ competition highlighted and spurred developments in quality coffee production, but these coffees have also consistently fetched prices many times those available in the traditional market or through programs such as Fair Trade. Furthermore, a whopping 85% of the bid prices go to the farmers. Winners of these competitions experience their veils of anonymity torn away and their becoming sought after by competing quality buyers. Their neighbors and even their regions benefit from intensified interest and visits by quality-seeking roasters. Today competition/auctions are spreading, with Cup of Excellence™ leading the way, and are helping to improve the lives of farmers who invest in real craftsmanship. The Cup of Excellence™ is proving that the reward for quality can have a long-lasting effect in the struggle to achieve economic sustainability for coffee farmers.
The Cup of Excellence is the most esteemed award given out for top coffees. These awards come from a strict competition that selects the very best coffee produced in that country for that particular year. These winning coffees are chosen by a select group of national and international cuppers and are cupped at least five different times during the competition process. Only coffees that continuously score high enough are allowed to move forward in the competition. The final winners are awarded the prestigious Cup of Excellence and sold to the highest bidder during an internet auction.
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