Cup of Excellence, Alliance for Coffee Excellence Partner with SCA

This official partnership paves the way for streamlined coffee assessments in competitions and auctions, and will further the work of the nonprofit groups.


Photos courtesy of Specialty Coffee Association

Cup of Excellence (CoE) and the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) have officially formed a partnership with the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA). Yesterday, the organizations signed a memorandum of understanding at the World of Coffee trade show in Copenhagen, Denmark—the perfect place for industry experts to come together and celebrate the achievement.

Two men shake hands at a table, with ACE, SCA, and COE brand logos projected behind them on screen.
Erwin Mierisch (left), executive director for CoE and ACE, shakes hands with SCA’s CEO, Yannis Apostolopoulos, at the memorandum of understanding signing.

Streamlining and Innovating Coffee Assessment

CoE, ACE, and SCA have always operated independently, but the organizations have occasionally collaborated on small-scale projects. This partnership will allow them to work closely together to, among other long-term plans, reshape and unify the approach to coffee evaluation throughout the specialty industry. This will begin with incorporating the SCA’s Coffee Value Assessment (CVA), which was launched in April of last year, into Cup of Excellence competition structures, particularly the descriptive and scoring portions of the CVA analysis protocol. The SCA technical team will team up with CoE head judges and staff to adapt the CVA form to the competition, with hopes to streamline the process of judging and sensory evaluation for competition coffees and ensure better impartiality during assessment.

Yannis Apostolopoulos, CEO of the Specialty Coffee Association, expressed his excitement for the partnership and its benefits: “This partnership goes beyond improving quality assessment; it aims to enhance the entire coffee ecosystem. By collaborating and sharing expertise, we will set new standards that benefit everyone from producers to consumers, ultimately making coffee better for all,” Yannis said in a press release about the memorandum of understanding signing.

A large W lit with blue light in a mostly empty hall at World of Coffee.
World of Coffee was the ideal venue for the partnership’s announcement.

Promoting Producers and Educators

Another aim of the new partnership is to build on the skills of in-country cuppers and coffee educators, whose expertise is crucial to the industry, while increasing their recognition on the global scale. With the SCA’s platform and support, Cup of Excellence and Alliance for Coffee Excellence can further their reach in focusing on positive change for specialty-coffee producers and coffee quality.

The synergy between the organizations could be a catalyst for positive changes in the specialty industry, making it easier to showcase award-winning coffees, uplift the work of CoE and ACE in the nonprofit sector, and rewarding producers for their achievements.

People smile and talk in small groups at the signing.
Yannis Apostolopoulos visits with attendees at the signing.

“For too many years our organizations have walked separate paths,“ said Erwin Mierisch, executive director for Cup of Excellence and Alliance for Coffee Excellence, in a press release. “This long-awaited partnership is just the beginning of the positive impact that is expected for farmers, producing countries, and roasters searching for high quality. From education to quality analysis to outreach and information-sharing, huge opportunities abound to drive specialty coffee in the right direction.”


J. Marie Carlan (she/they) is the online editor for Barista Magazine. She’s been a barista for 16 years and writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. When she’s not behind the espresso bar or toiling over content, you can find her perusing record stores, writing poetry, and trying to keep the plants alive in her Denver apartment.

Cover of June + July 2024 issue of Barista Magazine featuring Mikael Jasin of Indonesia.

Subscribe and More!

Out now: It’s the June + July 2024 issue of Barista Magazine! Read it for free with our digital edition. And for more than three years’ worth of issues, visit our digital edition archives here.

You can order a hard copy of the magazine through our online store here, or start a subscription for one year or two.