Cup of Excellence Returns to Colombia With Southern Focus

Six lots score 90+ to earn the presidential award, tying the Mexico Cup of Excellence as the highest number of 90+ lots in any COE competition in 2017.


Photos courtesy of the Alliance for Coffee Excellence

Beautiful coffees from Colombia have come to be almost expected in our modern specialty-coffee world: With coffee growing throughout the mountainous country and twice-a-year-harvests, it’s no surprise this quality-focused, coffee-minded nation produces so much great coffee.

Colombia hosts two Cup of Excellence competitions, one honoring the southern region and one highlighting the north.

It makes sense, then, that Cup of Excellence—the global origin competition recognizing farmer excellence and rewarding fantastic coffees—holds not one but two regular Colombia competitions, recognizing its northern and southern parts in separate iterations.

This fall, Cup of Excellence held its 2017 competition focusing on the southern part of Colombia—its first in the region since 2015—with the auction following in November. An international jury featuring coffee professionals from the United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, China, South Korea, Japan, United States, and Australia scored six coffees 90 points or higher to win COE’s presidential award. The 30 winning lots nabbed an average price of $10.80 per pound, nearly doubling the 2015 price per pound, while the coffees brought in $399,975 of total auction revenue.

Judges from all over the world came to taste coffees and decide which would receive top honors. Six coffees scored above 90 points.

Darrin Daniel, executive director of the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE)—the nonprofit organization that operates Cup of Excellence—says the overall quality of the coffees exceeded ACE’s already-high quality expectations. The six coffees scoring 90+ tied the Mexico COE for the most presidential awards in the 2017 cycle. “We had many comments from veterans on COE juries that this was one of the best showings of Colombia coffees they had ever had a chance to preside on,” Darrin says.

The winning coffee came from farmer Rodrigo Arley Diaz—a first-time COE competitor—and his Nariño farm Mirador-El Naranjo. In a press release from ACE, Rodrigo commented on the victory: “I feel honored to get the first place, as I didn’t compete with the idea of winning. I wanted to know more about the event and get to know more people.” The Mirador-El Naranjo coffee was sold at $37.30, and the winning bidders were Maruyama Coffee, Sarutahiko, Saza Coffee, and Nippon Coffee Trading Co. Ltd.

The winning coffee came from Finca Mirador-El Naranjo, which was produced by Rodrigo Arley Diaz, pictured above.

Darrin says ACE has long separated Colombia into two regions to honor the country’s varied production cycles. “This practice began in 2005 due to the distinct differences in harvest cycles between the north and the south,” he says. “There was no other way to properly provide a fair playing field with these regions being so different in their harvest cycles for the higher altitudes.”

For more on the Colombia Cup of Excellence winners and upcoming competitions and auctions, visit ACE’s website.

The Alliance for Coffee Excellence will host a competition of Colombia’s northern region coffees in March 2018. Colombia traditionally has two harvest seasons per year.

In other Cup of Excellence news, ACE recently held the auction for the first-ever Cup of Excellence in Peru, which took place in September. (We wrote about the competition here.) The competition broke COE’s record for overall auction price per pound, with the 19 auctioned lots selling for $21.13 per pound. The top lot came from Finca La Flor in the Cajamarca region, scoring 92.25. Juan Heredia, the farm’s owner, said in an ACE press release: “It has been a great achievement and I hope that all the people who grow coffee will work hard to participate in this great international auction that really values our work as producers.” Find out more on the Peru auction results here.

About Chris Ryan 259 Articles
Chris Ryan (he/him) is Barista Magazine's online copy editor and a freelance writer and editor with a background in the specialty coffee industry. He has been content director of Sustainable Harvest and the editor of Fresh Cup Magazine.