Quality Shines at Cup of Excellence Nicaragua

A house on a slanted slope.

Four coffees of 90+ points highlighted the 2021 incarnation of the annual event.


Photos courtesy of Alliance for Coffee Excellence

Cup of Excellence (CoE), the competition organized by the nonprofit Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) recognizing high-quality coffees in producing countries around the world, crowned its latest round of winners at its CoE event in Nicaragua this month. This year’s winners featured four Presidential Award winners—recognizing coffees scoring 90 points or higher—and a range of coffees representing several coffee varieties. 

A group of people sit with their backs facing the camera. They are watching the awards ceremony on a screen.
Competitors attended a socially distanced awards ceremony for the 2021 Nicaragua CoE.

The top coffee at the 2021 Nicaragua CoE was a washed Pacamara from Jesus Mountain Coffee, a farm in Nicaragua’s Nueva Segovia department that also won the top prize at the 2018 Nicaragua Cup of Excellence. “Thanks to the organizers, Jesus Mountain has a history of winning in the Cup of Excellence, having won in 2018 and now returning to the competition to win first place,” said Judith Amador, a representative of Jesus Mountain Coffee, in a press release from ACE. 

The second-place finisher was a honey-processed Maracaturra variety from the farm El Cambalache, also located in Nueva Segovia. “Thanks to God, our family, Alliance for Coffee Excellence, and the organizing committee for making this competition happen,” said Abner Samuel Zavala of El Cambalache in the press release. “It is worth the effort, and this is proof that although some producers think the contest is only for large farmers, small producers like us also have the opportunity.”

The third-place finisher was a natural-processed Catuai variety from Nueva Segovia’s Los Pirineos farm. The top three lots will be split for the Nicaragua CoE auction, taking place June 29. The fourth-place coffee, and final Presidential Award winner, was a washed Gesha from the farm Auxilio Mundial, the only winning coffee from Nicaragua’s Esteli department. 

In total there were 23 winning coffees at the 2021 Nicaragua CoE, with six female winners among them. Other winning varieties included Maragogype, Caturra, Catuai Rojo, Typica, Java, and H1. 

Darrin Daniel, executive director of ACE, says several factors likely contributed to the high quality shown at the competition. “This year I would have to say it was partially due to reports of a good harvest, continued expansion of varieties and processes (such as honey-processed coffees), and overall a country that is moving the needle on quality,” he says. 

Two people stand amongst coffee trees, of the varieties they won the competition with.
Jesus Mountain Coffee in Nicaragua’s Nueva Segovia department won first place at the 2021 CoE event.

As it has since the pandemic, ACE used Global Coffee Centers (GCCs) for the Nicaragua CoE to analyze coffees in the international phase of the competition. “We also expanded the amount of GCCs for 2021 to ensure a larger data set and level of correlation,” Darrin says. Thirty-five coffees passed to the international stage of the Nicaragua CoE, held at GCCs in Japan, South Korea, USA, Denmark, Taiwan, and Germany. Darrin says CoE will continue to use the GCCs for now as the global pandemic continues. “For the competitions for the balance of the year, we are still monitoring if we could possibly go back to our traditional methods, but this is really unlikely given the level of vaccination globally,” he says. 

The next CoE event will be the competition’s return to Ethiopia, taking place July 7, followed by July competitions in Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. For more on the Nicaragua competition and its upcoming auction, head here.

About Chris Ryan 263 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.