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What is The Cup of Excellence?
The Cup of Excellence was founded in 1999 as a global project to help producers receive more money and recognition for their high-quality coffees. The Cup of Excellence is a rigorous competition that is region-based and has both National and International juries.
The Cup of Excellence is a multi faceted organization that holds competitions and auctions worldwide while also providing coffee producers with the tools, training, and education they need to improve their products.
Each country sees hundreds of entries into their Cup of Excellence competition, where the top 30 move on to the final auction. Those that make it to the auction see long-term impacts on their livelihood due to greater profits and exposure to their farm.
The greater profits often garnered from the auction can lead producers toward further investing in their equipment and people. The name recognition sticks, and with the Cup of Excellence farmer directory being public, this generally leads to new business.
Do Expensive Coffees Taste Better?
Just because a coffee is expensive doesn't necessarily mean it tastes better than the rest. If you read back to what factors impact coffee price, only a few correlate to flavor. A good portion of the influence on price is extraneous when concerning taste. Think of that example where your high-fashion brand t-shirt may not necessarily fit or feel better than a moderately priced alternative.
In most extreme cases, more expensive coffee should taste better as quality often follows price. The more notable varietals are also grown at higher elevations and have more sweet, subtle, and delicate flavor notes. Producers who spend adequate time evaluating and iterating their post-harvest processing see better results and more interesting/consistent flavor profiles.
What Factors Make a Coffee Expensive?
Five factors make a coffee's price high. However, the initial determining factor is a coffee quality score (ranging from 0 – 100 where any score above 80 is considered specialty and any score 90 and above are extremely rare and one-of-a-kind coffees.) Those five factors outside of the quality score are a coffee's varietal, rarity, producer, accolades, and process.
Varietal: Specific varietal or cultivars are sought after from the onset due to the brewed cup's expected quality and flavor profile. The best example of a sought-after varietal would be the famous Gesha varietal.
Rarity: Like the varietal, the rarity of certain aspects of coffee help drives up the end price.
Producers can create unique lots, called microlots, which are subsections of their farm that may have quality distinctions from the rest of the farm. Microlots are sought after by importers and roasters due to their characteristics and process differentiation from the main lots. Microlots are priced higher because they are unique from the rest of the farm. Still, they are harvested and processed separately from the main lot, increasing the time spent and ultimately the price of the coffee.
Another driver of rarity is the origin, and one great example is Yemen. Yemen was once the only coffee-exporting country in the world and now only represents 0.1% of today's total supply. If you want to dive into the story of Yemeni coffee and producers deeply, Qima Coffee and Foundation is a great place
Farmer and Producer: The accolade of the producer plays a huge part in the final sale price of their lot. Those producers who are fortunate enough to participate in competitions like the Cup of Excellence or the Colombia Land of Diversity auction can expect premiums on their lots of upward of 100%.
Process: Another significant factor that drives prices is how the coffee is processed post harvest. Most coffee enthusiasts are familiar with terms such as Natural or Washed coffees. These terms loosely define how the coffee was processed post harvest and the coffee's expected flavor profile.
What is Specialty Coffee?
The SCA defines Specialty Coffees as those with positive flavor attributes, minimal defects, and one assigned a score of 80+ (on a 100pt scale). Specialty coffee starts at the source with optimal growing and post harvest processing. The care continues as the coffee leaves the country of origin and often is protected in hermetically sealed packaging that helps lock in freshness. At Coffee Bros., we focus on sourcing high-end (86pt+ coffees) great-tasting coffee from all of our blends to our single-origin and award-winning lots.