10 Things You Should Know About Cup of Excellence

The founders

The first competition in 1999 was called “Best of Brazil”, executed as an experimental program under the “Gourmet Project” started by Susie Spindler, George Howell, the Brazil Specialty Coffee Association and the Specialty Coffee Association of America. A group of Hewlett Packard PhD auction experts helped design the CoE auction protocols. 

Nonprofit life

Cup of Excellence is a program run by the nonprofit Alliance for Coffee Excellence, founded in 2002.

Small team

Cup of Excellence / ACE has 5 full-time employees, 2 part-time employees and 2 office dogs. 

More than a competition

There’s more to Cup of Excellence than competitions. Cup of Excellence also has a training and education channel where sensory evaluation and other courses are taught globally in English, Spanish and Chinese. There is also an ACE lab and TAZA knowledge series program.

Early adopters

Alliance for Coffee Excellence has  16 Lifetime members who each donated $10,000 to help kickstart the program. 

COE Countries

Since inception, the Cup of Excellence has been held in 12 countries – and we’re working on more!

Members around the World

Alliance for Coffee Excellence currently has members in 40 countries.

A unique Cupping Form

Cup of Excellence has its own distinct cupping form used to help find the world’s best coffees. The CoE form is designed for competition and gives more room to evaluate higher scoring coffees. Cleanliness and sweetness of the coffee is also evaluated as opposed to just checking a box that says a coffee is sweet and clean.

For the Farmers

The COE competition process is free and open to all farmers, giving thousands of farmers the tools needed to improve their coffees, experiment with varieties and processing, build economic relationships with the marketplace and financially motivate farmers and their families to stay on the farm – in fact young educated people are returning to the farm with degrees in agronomy, marketing, and sensory analysis. For a sustainable coffee industry, especially one fraught with climate change and economic hardship it is critical that there is a financial motivation for innovation to remain on the farm.

The Competition process is no slouch!

The COE competition involves 6 rounds of cupping including a national jury and international jury phase. All coffees must score 86+ points from a possible 100 to advance to the next phase of the competition. The top 30 coffees advance to the Cup of Excellence auction, if the coffee scores an 87+.

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