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At this year’s CoffeeCON in Chicago, I was fortunate enough to get some time with Boston-based specialty coffee pioneer George Howell to talk coffee. To say that George provided me with an overwhelming amount of coffee knowledge would be an understatement, and I’m looking forward in the weeks and months to come, to referencing this knowledge.
George talked to me about the Cup of Excellence program, and I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you what it is, and why it should be interesting for any coffee lover.
Check out: Trip Report CoffeeCON 2013
In 1999, George and other specialty coffee buyers and roasters were frustrated with the lack of appreciation for high-quality Brazilian coffees among North American specialty coffee buyers. Brazils had a reputation for being mass-produced, and with little regard for being unique and prized. George and company wanted to change that perception, and started the Cup of Excellence as a competition for coffee farmers in that country. Farmers would submit their single best coffee, perfectly ripe when picked, exhibiting a well-developed body and amazing flavor. A panel of international coffee experts would select the winning coffee, which is crowned champion.
Here’s the cool part. In order to encourage with farmers the relationship between quality coffee and the price that they can get for their product, the winning coffees from Cup of Excellence are auctioned online to the highest bidder, with the farmer receiving 85% of the auction price.
The competition has since grown to include more countries than just Brazil. Keep your eyes open for reference to Cup of Excellence. If you see it, try it!