Twenty-five winning lots fetched an average price of $10.89 per pound, a new record for the competition in Nicaragua.
BY CHRIS RYAN
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Cover photo courtesy of Susie Spindler / Alliance for Coffee Excellence
Coffee quality competition Cup of Excellence has a long history of identifying amazing-quality coffees at origin and offering them to buyers via competitive auctions that fetch high prices. Last week the event achieved strides on this front, with the 25 lots sold in its 2017 Cup of Excellence Nicaragua online auction earning the highest-ever average price for Cup of Excellence Nicaragua at $10.89 per pound. This was a 14 percent increase over the previously held record for Cup of Excellence Nicaragua, achieved in the 2014 auction.
At this year’s auction, each of the 25 winning lots sold for over $7 a pound. The first-place coffee, El Esfuerzo from farmer Ignacio Estrada Burgo, sold for close to $40 a pound. This was Ignacio’s first time entering the Cup of Excellence, and he was astonished not just at the win but at the price his coffee fetched. “I didn’t know my coffee was this good,” Ignacio shared. “In fact, I always sold my coffee on the market in Jinotega.”
The Thursday auction took place over four hours, with the winning bidders hailing from Japan, Germany, South Korea, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Australia, Norway, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Lots in the auction were cupped by Cup of Excellence’s national and international juries at least fives times, and had earned scores of between 86 and 91.16 points. Those coffees that scored 90 points are higher—such as Ignacio’s—were divided into two lots for the auction.
The Nicaragua competition featured diverse varieties of coffee, including both H3 and F1 hybrids. Second-place finisher Las Promesas de San Blas used a Centroamericano variety, an F1 hybrid variety that recently became commercially available in Central America and offers disease resistance, high yield, and high quality. (Read more about the variety’s emergence at the competition here.)
The Cup of Excellence program is run by the Alliance for Coffee Excellence, a nonprofit global membership organization dedicated to advancing excellence in coffee. Since 1999, Cup of Excellence has held auctions in coffee-producing countries around the world that help foster quality discovery, higher premiums to farmers, and improved transparency. The 2016 Nicaragua event was the first Cup of Excellence in the country in two years, as the competition reduced its number of competitions to five in 2016 and did not hold a Nicaragua event.
With the 2017 event, the organization’s efforts achieved a new record for participating farmers. “In every country that hosts a Cup of Excellence, there are unexpected winners and unknown coffees that are discovered by the cuppers,” says Darrin Daniel, executive director of the Alliance for Coffee Excellence. “The results in Nicaragua prove that Cup of Excellence is still the best program in coffee that identifies and rewards farmers for their exceptional coffees and their hard work.”
The next Cup of Excellence auction, offering coffees from Guatemala, will take place June 15.