What is Cup of Excellence®?
Cup of Excellence is a premier coffee competition and worldwide auction offering the highest award given to a top scoring coffee. The level of scrutiny that Cup of Excellence coffees undergo is unmatched as all of the COE award winners are cupped at least five times (the top ten are cupped again) during the three-week competition. Literally hundreds of cups are smelled, tasted and scored based on their exemplary characteristics. The prices that these winning coffees receive at the auction have broken records time and again to prove that there is a huge demand for these rare, farmer identified coffees. The farmer receives the majority of the auction proceeds based on the price paid at auction, and the farmer can expect to receive more than 80% of the final price. The remaining auction proceeds are paid to the in-country organizing committee to help pay for the program.
Changing Producer Lives
Being selected as one of the winners at Cup of Excellence means recognition and reward for the grower and has been a springboard for many growers to secure long-term relationships with international buyers, which, in turn, allows for further investment in the farm and brings security for families and communities.
The experience for the grower is life-changing. He or she is a star and for that one nervous, exhilarating moment, applauded. Proudly walking up on the stage and accepting the applause, the grower realizes their hard work, attention to detail, maybe their very livelihood, is being recognized as important to their entire country. Some are very shy, never having been in any kind of public spotlight. Many are humble country folk – and this is evident as they shake hands with an ambassador, the vice president or even the president of a country, their expression clearly showing the huge elation of winning. Cup of Excellence has created a much more transparent infrastructure for high quality coffee. Roasters can now identify, find and build relationships with growers of superior coffees. It brings together the high quality roaster and the high quality farmer and helps both understand and appreciate the nuances and flavor profiles of rare exemplary coffees. It has changed the pricing structure for farmers and has discovered many of the incredible coffees that have built consumer excitement and loyalty. With that, we are excited to present our new series: Producer Profiles.
El Filo is a pretty nice farm in El Cedral – Sta. Bárbara,
but the most amazing thing is the stunning landscape. We had an interview with Miguel and here’s what he shared with us about the farm and his family:
Miguel began growing his coffee collectively with his father 27 years ago, and in 1995 he became independent with half a hectare, and he now owns 2.45 hectares of coffee plantation. He and his wife have 8 children, and all of them work in coffee growing activities. Family members do the maintenance activities around the farm, but during the picking season they hire on almost 25 people to collect the cherries.
The process of producing a quality coffee begins with proper picking, using only the ripe, red cherries and rejecting any other cherries that make it into the collection. Milling is performed the very same day, again carefully selecting the superior grain and discarding the damaged grain. Drying is then performed in temperature controlled solar dryers.
Miguel and his coffee have participated in COE 8 times, ranking 5th place in 2013. He says “I am happy with COE, it’s a great alternative for small producers. In my first events, I was disappointed but when I learned how to prepare the coffee in the correct way, I saw the results.”
More on Miguel Moreno’s History:
Miguel Moreno, a small coffee farmer from El Cedral, Las Vegas, Sta. Bárbara is better known as El Cielito. Coffee is the main product in this zone, and it marks the economy of this village. “Don Miguel” as people affectionately know him, is a second-generation coffee grower, starting his career producing coffee in 1993. During his first years, the profits from coffee production weren’t enough to support his family; prices were low and market predicted a bleak future for coffee producers. After trying without success to get better prices for his coffee, he decided to immigrate to US looking for the American Dream as a way to improve his family’s quality of life.
After several years of living in the US, he was deported. However, he had managed to save up enough money to buy a parcel of land and began growing coffee again. But he got the same results as before: low prices and insufficient income. He tried entering the US to pursue the American dream once again, but was again deported. Shortly after he returned to coffee and just barely made the deadline to submit his coffee for the 2005 Cup of Excellence (2nd Edition). His coffee was chosen as a winner, and since then Miguel has participated every year, making it to the winner’s circle almost every year. The successes changed the quality of life for him and his family. Miguel has forgotten the American Dream, because his coffee has made his own dream.
Now “Don” Miguel is an inspiration for his brothers and neighbors who have been participating in COE Honduras. They have collectively improved the processing and quality of their coffees to the point the El Cielito has been placed in the World Specialty Coffees list, and documentaries have been made on their story.
—Courtesy of Alliance for Coffee Excellence