Sustainable Coffees Recognized for High Quality at the Rainforest Alliance Cupping.

Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms in Kenya, Peru and Colombia earned top scores at the Rainforest Alliance’s December Cupping for Quality, held at the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Lab in Long Beach, California. This marks the tenth year that the Rainforest Alliance has hosted coffee cuppings to recognize farmers for their hard work producing high quality, sustainable coffees.
 A total of 51 coffees from nine origins were submitted to the December event, including the first-ever sample from Malawi. The highest score — 87.1 points — went to the Ndumberi Factory, a cooperative of smallholder farmers located in the Kiambu region of Kenya. Through Rainforest Alliance certification, the cooperative has adopted a systemized approach to training, which has improved the sustainability and quality of its production. Ndumberi is also unique in having its own wet mill with a cupping lab, allowing cooperative members to analyze quality and focus on quality control in tandem with sustainable production.
 More than 90 percent of the samples received scores above 80, the threshold for specialty coffee categorization according to the SCAA cupping protocol. This indicates that sustainable farming practices can contribute to the production of high-quality beans that brew a better tasting cup of coffee. Rainforest Alliance certification requires the adoption of a holistic set of standards that address social, environmental, and economic issues on farms. 
 “It’s very gratifying to see that sustainability and ever-improving quality can go hand-in-hand,” said Stephen Leach, cupper and Global Coffee Procurement Manager at Maranatha Import Export, which owns both the Gloria Jeans and It’s A Grind brands . “On farms that follow the principals of Rainforest Alliance certification, I have seen greater attention paid at every step along the way to produce green coffee. Quality, by default, improves.”
 “The cupping is a great conduit for feedback to the farmers. I am happy to see that the trend upward in cup quality has continued year over year,” added Jeff Chean, cupper and Founder of Groundwork Coffee, a specialty and organic roaster based in Los Angeles.
The top ten scoring coffees:

Ndumberi Factory Kenya


Tunki Peru


El Silencio – Luis Fernando Arias Alzate Colombia


Tegu Factory Kenya


Quechua Peru


Santo Tomas 2; Eibar Jose Rojas Pajoy Colombia


Gichatha-ini Factory Kenya


Ibonia Estate Kenya


Coop Sol & Café Peru


Yadini Estate Kenya


 Full results from the December 2012 Cupping for Quality can be found via the following link:
 A panel of 15 expert cuppers, representing North American coffee importers, roasters, and retailers, evaluated the profile of each coffee according to aroma, acidity, uniformity and balance. Samples were roasted and prepared by Ted Vautrinot and Shawn Anderson of Kean Coffee and Andrew Phillips of Rose Park Roasters.
The cupper team:

  • Shawn Hamilton, Java City, Lead Cupper
  • Jorge Quintanilla, Allegro of Whole Foods Markets
  • Adam Kline, Atlantic Specialty
  • Michael Boyd, Boyd’s
  • David Pohl, Farmer Brothers
  • Jeff Chean, Groundwork
  • Yesenia Villota, InterAmerican
  • Jay Isais, International Coffee & Tea/Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
  • Ted Vautrinot, Kean Coffee
  • Steve Leach, Maranatha Import Export/Gloria Jeans
  • Catie Leach, Maranatha Import Export/Gloria Jeans
  • Nathalie Gabbay, RGC
  • Andrew  Phillips, Rose Park Roasters
  • Katie Gilmer, Sustainable Harvest
  • Heydy Manotas, Zephyr Green Coffee

 This was the most successful Rainforest Alliance Cupping yet,” said Maya Albanese, event hostess and associate of sustainable agriculture at the Rainforest Alliance. “In our tenth year of hosting these events, we’ve seen the quality of the cups and the enthusiasm of top national coffee cuppers increase dramatically. The Rainforest Alliance Cupping has become one of the best vehicles in this market for showcasing coffee farms that have worked hard to adhere to strict sustainability criteria and improve the quality of their crops.”
 The Rainforest Alliance developed its Cupping for Quality program in 2003 to demonstrate the link between sustainable farming and cup quality. Cuppings take place twice per year to accommodate the various coffee harvest cycles around the world. Coffees from Central and South America will be evaluated in March during the Spring Cupping event. The top ten scorers for both cuppings will be awarded at the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Coffee breakfast event at 7:30am on Friday April 12th, 2013 at the annual SCAA Exposition in Boston, Massachusetts.  


 The Rainforest Alliance works with people whose livelihoods depend on the land, helping them transform the way they grow food, harvest wood and host travelers. From large multinational corporations to small, community-based cooperatives, businesses and consumers worldwide are involved in the Rainforest Alliance’s efforts to bring responsibly produced goods and services to a global marketplace where the demand for sustainability is growing steadily. For more information, visit

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