In 1999, a group of well known coffee professionals met in a small lab, deep in Brazil, to taste coffee together. The goal was simple: to find the very best coffees available, sell them to roasters around the world on behalf of the farmers, and ultimately, find a way to better reward producers for high quality coffees. It was here, under the guidance of Susie Spindler and George Howell, that the programme now known as "The Cup of Excellence" was born.
In simple terms, the Cup of Excellence programme works by transparent auction. First, farmers submit their coffees to be roasted, cupped, and assessed by a national jury in their country of production (CoE now operates in 11 countries, with a new pilot country happening this year!). From here, coffees judged to be 86 points out of 100 are selected for further assessment by an international jury of calibrated coffee professionals. Next, coffees that are awarded scores of 87 or above are announced as "Cup of Excellence Winners", with samples of these coffees then being sent to CoE partners around the world. Throughout this whole process, a top 10 coffee (often out of thousands of samples) will be cupped over 120 times by national and international juries, making the Cup of Excellence the most robust coffee competition in the world! CoE partners then have the opportunity to taste these coffees, then bid in an online auction system. CoE coffees are famous for breaking records in prices paid, and the programme is renowned for having the highest returns to coffee producers.*
At Laika, we are beyond excited to become Cup of Excellence partners, and to host CoE cuppings throughout the year at our roastery in Lathlain. First up is El Salvador, happening on the 5th of June, with 5 more origins happening later in the year. In our mission to share the best coffees we can find, with as many people as possible, we truly believe that the Cup of Excellence is a crucial next step in our journey, as we find more responsible ways to purchase coffees, and more exciting ways to bring them to our customers.
We can't wait to see you at our Cup of Excellence El Salvador cupping!
*The Cup of Excellence is a competition run by The Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE), a not for profit body operating out of Portland, USA. ACE takes a small flat rate for coffees sold via auction, instead of a percentage. This ensures transparency and maximum returns to farmers.