Rainforest Alliance Announces Record Breaking Scores from Spring Cupping for Quality

April 25, 2014

100% of coffees evaluated earned specialty categorization, demonstrating that sustainable farming practices lead to quality in the cup.

The Rainforest Alliance announces record breaking scores from the spring Cupping for Quality, with 100 percent of the coffees evaluated earning scores of about 80 -- the threshold for specialty categorization according to the SCAA cupping protocol. These results demonstrate that the sustainable farming practices required for Rainforest Alliance certification can lead to a better tasting cup of coffee. Results were announced this morning at the Rainforest Alliance’s Sustainable Coffee Breakfast at the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) annual tradeshow in Seattle, WA.

coffee

A total of 60 coffees from eight countries were evaluated at the spring cupping, held at Balzac Brothers and Company’s SCAA certified cupping lab in Charleston, South Carolina. The average score reached a record breaking 84.64. The highest score -- 91.90 points -- went to Finca El Zapote, a 368-acre (149-hectare) farm located in the Guatemalan highlands. Situated at an altitude of 6,500 feet, the coffee farm benefits from abundant shade, timely rainfall and exceptional soil. Second place with 89.95 points was awarded to Hacienda La Esmeralda, a farm in southwest Panama with 494 production acres (200 hectares).

“It is no surprise to see the quality of coffees evaluated at our cupping events improve year after year,” said Alex Morgan, senior manager of sustainable agriculture at the Rainforest Alliance. “The cuppings enable us to help farmers identify areas for improvement. These farmers are going above and beyond, improving the quality of their beans while conserving natural resources, protecting wildlife habitat and supporting local communities.”

Top 11 Scoring Coffees

  1. 91.90 - Finca El Zapote, Guatemala
  2. 89.95 - Hacienda La Esmeralda, Panama
  3. 87.05 - Andalucía, El Salvador
  4. 86.88 - El Pintado, Guatemala
  5. 86.78 - Las Morenitas, Nicaragua
  6. 86.53 - El Molino, Nicaragua
  7. 86.20 - Finca San Juan, Guatemala
  8. 86.20 - Finca San Francisco Cotzal, Guatemala
  9. 86.15 - Santa Elena, El Salvador
  10. 86.15 - Santa Elena, El Salvador
  11. 86.15 - Ac La Laja, Mexico

In an effort to link sustainable farming practices with coffee quality, the Rainforest Alliance established its Cupping for Quality program in 2003. “Practices that are implemented on the farm level must translate to quality in the cup,” said Linda Smithers of Daterra Coffee, who also served as the lead cupper. “These cuppings are not a contest but rather a way to provide farmers with invaluable feedback on the quality of their beans while also linking sustainable farming practices to quality beans.”

Spring 2014 Cuppers

  • Linda Smithers, Daterra Coffee - Lead Cupper
  • Marty Curtis, Combustion Systems - Roaster and Technical Judge
  • John Sanders, Heinz Public Market - IT Assistant
  • Matt Sheridan, American Coffee Corp.
  • Gloria Long, Balzac Brothers
  • Samantha Keane, Balzac Brothers
  • Anne Valdez, Barnies Coffee Kitchen
  • Lowell Gross, Charleston Coffee Roasters
  • Carol Lindsey, Royal Cup
  • Tim Fallar, S & D Coffee
  • Jennifer Stone, Stone Cup Coffee Roastery
  • Chad Trewick, Trewick Coffee Consulting
  • James Jenkins, Zephyr Green Coffee, LLS

“It’s great to be able to help farmers improve the quality of their coffee through an event like this,” said first-time cupper Samantha Keane of Balzac Brothers. “Balzac Brothers is a proud supporter of Rainforest Alliance certification and hosting these cuppings is a great way that we can give back to the organization.”

In 2013, more than 454,962 metric tons of coffee was produced on Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, a 20 percent increase over 2012. Coffee from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms now represents over 5.2 percent of global production.

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