Origin Roundup: New women’s coffee blend, investing in Mexico, COE Colombia

We look at recent origin-focused news, including Vermont-based 802 Coffee launching a women’s coffee blend, Sustainable Harvest and the Inter-American Development bank partnering to invest in Southern Mexico, and the results of September’s Cup of Excellence Colombia.


Cover photo courtesy of the Alliance for Coffee Excellence

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity in the coffee world, with a wide range of events taking place around the globe. Amid this flurry of action, several pieces of coffee-origin-related news have been released—here we look at three recent stories.

802 Coffee Women’s Coffee Blend

On Monday, the global coffee community celebrated International Coffee Day. Spearhead by the International Coffee Organization, International Coffee Day this year had the theme of “Women in Coffee,” celebrating women throughout the coffee supply chain.

In honor of the day, Montpelier, Vt.-based 802 Coffee announced its new Ceres Blend, with coffee grown exclusively by women farmers. The Vermont roaster will contribute 20 percent of all proceeds from the blend to Food 4 Farmers to support food security and economic autonomy for women in coffee-growing regions.

Vermont-based roaster 802 Coffee releases the Ceres Blend, a coffee sourced exclusively from women farmers—20 percent of the profits will go to Food 4 Farmers. Photo courtesy of 802 Coffee.

The Ceres Blend is named for the Roman Goddess of Agriculture, a statue of which has stood on top of Vermont’s Capitol Dome for over a century. Bob Watson, owner of 802 Coffee, offered more about why the company decided to launch the blend. “Food 4 Farmers is doing vital work helping women in coffee communities confront seasonal hunger and poverty,” he said. “Investing in women farmers contributes to better nutrition, livelihoods, savings, education, health, and a host of other needs in rural farming communities.”

Partnering to help farmers in Southern Mexico

In late September at the annual Let’s Talk Coffee global supply-chain conference in Cartagena, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers announced the launch of a comprehensive new program in Southern Mexico to help smallholder farmers increase their profitability and resilience in the face of climate change.

Coffee farmers in Southern Mexico have yet to fully recover from the coffee-leaf rust epidemic—Mexico currently produces 2.5 million bags of coffee compared to 4.5 million in 2013—and the low coffee market compounds the problem.

In Mexico, IDB and Sustainable Harvest are teaming up to address issues of sustainability and coffee resilience. Photo courtesy of Sustainable Harvest.

The new collaboration will help smallholder coffee farmers in Southern Mexico by giving them access to cutting-edge science, technology, and training. Specifically, the program will focus on four key elements: Establishing verified seeds nurseries in partnership with World Coffee Research to give farmers access to high-quality, disease-free planting material; providing farmers with the tools to calculate the ROI of on-farm climate-smart investments; refining information-management tools to improve cooperatives’ business performance; and connecting disaggregated smallholders to specialty markets. These efforts will directly benefit 2,000 family farms and close to 10,000 individuals.

Alejandro Escobar, lead agribusiness specialist of the Multilateral Investment Fund of the IDB, expanded more on why the partners are launching the program: “For the Inter-American Development Bank, this project in partnership with Sustainable Harvest comes at the right time for the region of Southern Mexico. Not just because of the current context of coffee prices around the world, but because we believe it has a chance to put Mexican coffee back on top of the quality coffee scale.”

Cup of Excellence Colombia

On September 20, Cup of Excellence (COE), the global origin competition recognizing farmer excellence and rewarding high-quality coffees, concluded its 15th edition in Colombia with a competition focused on coffees from the southern part of the country. Farmers from eight departments submitted 208 samples that got narrowed down to 37 samples for international week from Cauca, Huila, Nariño, Quindío, and Tolima. In the end, the COE International jury gave scores of 90 and above to a COE record-breaking nine top lots.

Nine different coffees scored a 90+ at this year’s COE in Colombia. Photo courtesy of Alliance for Coffee Excellence.

Darrin Daniel, executive director the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE)—the nonprofit organization that operates Cup of Excellence—says Colombia exceeded expectations with the quality of its coffees. “The lowest score for the entire competition came in above 87,” Darrin says. “This second edition of Colombia since our return last year continues to shine a light on the complexity and strength of these coffees from the southern regions of Colombia’s coffee sector.”

Farmer Andres Londoño Montoya earned first place, marking the first time a coffee from the Quindío region topped COE. Mr. Montoya scored 91.35 points with a washed Gesha Bourbón blend from the farm Cumaral. Coming in second place was Duberney Cifuentes Fajardo, whose washed Gesha from the farm La España 1 scored 91.18. Mr. Montoya also took third place with his farm Manantiales del Frontino, scoring 91 with a washed Gesha.

A full list of the Colombia COE winners can be found here. The auction for the Colombia Cup of Excellence winning coffees will take place November 13—for more information, head here.

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