Since the beginning of Cup of Excellence in 1999, winning farmers have continued to improve their agricultural practices, harvesting, processing and drying methods. These improvements have increased the quality of coffee standard in the industry and elevated what it means to be rewarded a COE coffee and be offered on the auction platform.
The COE competition is rigorous, with cupping evaluations conducted over a three-week process by industry experts: first by a National Jury of about a dozen qualified jurors from the origin country, and then by an International Jury, comprised of approximately 20-25 experienced jurors from around the world.
These coffees enter the competition process and are assigned a number known only to the auditor for each competition, and each jury member cups the coffee blind. In addition, each lot is documented through the entire process so that winning coffees are traceable to the farm and exact micro-lot.
The National Winner program began in 2016 and sells the semi-finalist to the Cup of Excellence program. These coffees are evaluated in 3 rounds with the National Jury scoring 86 and above. They enter into the National Winner program if the International Jury scores them below 87 or if they did score above an 87, their score did not qualify them for the COE auction.
Due to the farmers ability to improve quality there are many great coffees already in the warehouses after the completion of the competition. These coffees are as good and often much better than the everyday specialty coffees that are being bought thru premium contracts and direct trade relationships. They have already been vetted for quality and are secure in a warehouse.
Each year, thousands of coffees are submitted for consideration, with winning coffees sold in global online auctions at premium prices, with the vast majority of auction proceeds going to the farmers.