Farmers submitting samples in Hawassa. Press photo by Feed the Future Ethiopia Value Chain Activity, funded by USAID.

The inaugural Cup of Excellence coffee quality competition and auction program in Ethiopia is off to an auspicious start, with 1,459 coffee samples submitted, breaking the long-running competition’s previous record by more than 400.

With a more than 20-year history and annual competitions throughout Latin America and Africa, this is the first time the Cup of Excellence is being conducted in Ethiopia, arabica coffee’s genetic birthplace and a coffee country prized by buyers for its remarkable coffee diversity and quality.

Cup of Excellence cupping form

A judge scores a coffee at a 2019 Cup of Excellence competition in Brazil. Daily Coffee News photo by Howard Bryman.

Thursday, Feb. 6, marked the official opening of the Cup of Excellence Ethiopia competition center, including a warehouse and cupping lab, in Ethiopian capital city Addis Ababa, while the program there has involved an ongoing partnership between CoE organizer the Alliance for Coffee Excellence, the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority, and the USAID Feed the Future Ethiopia Value Chain Activity.

Collected through centers in Jimma, Hawassa, Diredawa and Addis Ababa, the list of 1,459 sample coffees will soon be whittled down by a national jury to 150 lots, which will then be further evaluated by the national jury until an international jury scores the top 40 lots. Those coffees will then be moved to an online auction on Thursday, May 28, that will be open to all Alliance for Coffee Excellence members.

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