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.
Sítio Baixadão belongs to the brothers, Antônio Márcio da Silva and Sebastião Afonso da Silva, who also manage the properties Santa Isabel and Água Limpa, among others. Coming from a family with another 13 siblings, they grew up in the middle of rice production. The change to a coffee growing began around 20 years ago when the 2 brothers decided to set aside 1 ha of land for coffee cultivation. What was simply an experience became a passion; nowadays coffee is the family’s main source of income. The farms is located in the city of Cristina, in the south of Minas Gerais, a region that presents excellent characteristics, such as fertile soil, well-defined seasons and high elevation that create the perfect environment to grow coffee. The producers are members of APROCAM, which holds the Mantiqueira de Minas Indication of Origin, which has the objective of guaranteeing the source and traceability of the lot. The farm is committed to sustainable coffee growing through good agricultural practices and preservation of natural resources. The entire harvest is done by hand; the beans are picked and taken to the processing center, located on the farm itself. Drying is done on patios under sunlight and later finished in dryers that guarantee homogenous drying, preserving the quality. The coffee is stored at COCARIVE (Cooperativa Regional dos Cafeicultores do Vale do Rio Verde), which gives members support throughout all stages of production, including in the area of commercialization where there is a department entirely dedicated to these high-scoring lots. (www.cocarive.com.br) Both effort and dedication bring satisfying results to the brothers, who together have achieved: 1st place in the Ernesto Illy Quality Award for Espresso Coffee. 2nd place in the COCARIVE Coffee Quality Contest. 1st place in the Mantiqueira de Minas Coffee Quality Contest.
—Courtesy of Alliance for Coffee Excellence