Certified Sustainable Coffee is Recognized for Outstanding Quality at Rainforest Alliance Cupping for Quality Event

October 28, 2010

Farms in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua have earned top scores from a panel of coffee experts at the 2010 Rainforest Alliance Cupping for Quality event. The event took place on May 19-21 at the Intercontinental Exchange Grading Room in New York City. Coffees from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms were evaluated using the Specialty Coffee Association of American (SCAA) Cupping Protocol in order to identify superior aroma and flavor profiles.

Sixty-eight samples -- primarily from Central America -- were submitted by Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms. And for the first time in the history of the cupping, farms from India and the Dominican Republic participated. Ninety-five percent of the samples achieved scores of 80 or above, the threshold for specialty coffee status -- demonstrating that sustainable farming practices can result in high-quality.

Coffee Cherries

"The implementation of better farm management practices tend to create conditions that are suitable for the production of high-quality specialty grade coffees for which the market continues to grow," said Petra Tanos, coordinator of sustainable value chains at the Rainforest Alliance.

On average, the cup scores of the Central American coffees demonstrated improvement from previous years. Guatemala's El Injerto farm scored 89.73, the top score in May's event and the highest score ever achieved by a Guatemalan farm since the Cupping for Quality competition began in 2004.

"I'm struck by the way that the quality of the submissions has continued to improve over the years," said cupper Chad Trewick, senior director of coffee and tea at Caribou Coffee. "I was a part of the first cupping in 2004, and I think we should all celebrate the great advances in quality and certification that have been made since then."

The 10 top scoring farms were from four different origins; all received scores above 85.

Farm Score
El Injerto (Guatemala) 89.73
El Cashal (El Salvador) 86.95
Coopranaranjo R.L. (Costa Rica) 86.45
La Bendición (Guatemala) 86.38
San Diego Buena Vista (Guatemala) 86.37
Coopedota R.L. (Costa Rica) 86.20
La Hilda (Costa Rica) 85.95
El Zapote (Guatemala) 85.78
Cafetalera Tirrá, S.A. (Costa Rica) 85.13
Jesus María (Nicaragua) 85.13

Ten experienced, volunteer cuppers -- representing coffee roasters, retailers and trading companies -- evaluated the coffee samples based on: fragrance/aroma, uniformity, sweetness, clean cup, acidity, defects, flavor, body, balance and after-taste. Linda Smithers, who helped conceive the event, led the group over the course of the three days.

Special thanks to Marty Curtis and Combustion Systems Sales & Service Inc. for preparing and roasting the coffee samples

May 2010 Cuppers

  • Al Liu, Atlas Coffee Importers
  • Alan Nietlisbach, Olam Americas
  • Allen Leibowitz, Zingerman's Coffee Co.
  • John Coyne, Royal NY
  • Chad Trewick, Caribou Coffee
  • Jin Chiew, Caffe Pronto
  • Jordan Hooper, Louis Dreyfus Commodities
  • Marty Curtis, Combustion Systems Sales & Service Inc.
  • Stephen Rogers, Combustion Systems Sales & Service Inc.
  • Stephen Schulman, S&D Coffee

The average scores and the three highest scoring farms in each country were

Country Score Top Three Scores
Brazil (with one farm participating) 80.16 Top score: Fazenda Capetinga (80.16)
Colombia (with four farms participating) 84.12 El Progreso (84.68), Grupo Asociativo Villa Esperanza - Finca La Esmeralda (84.60), La Esperanza (84.10)
Costa Rica (with 10 farms participating) 83.99 Coopranaranjo R.L. (86.45), Coopedota R.L. (86.20), La Hilda (85.95)
Dominican Republic (with one farm participating) 78.57 Spirit Mountain (78.57)
El Salvador (with eight farms participating) 83.67 El Cashal (86.95), Altamira No. 1 (84.52), Montecarlos (83.88)
Guatemala (with 10 farms participating) 85.07 El Injerto (89.73), La Bendición (86.38), San Diego Buena Vista (86.37)
Honduras (with six farms participating) 81.85 Las Capucas – Africa Mia (84.16), El Progreso (81.98), Las Lomas (81.93)
India (with seven participating countries) 81.15 Jumboor Estate (83.85), Mylemoney Estate (82.82), Ubban Estate (81.95)
Mexico (with five farms participating) 82.54 Grupo Sembradores de Semillas del Pacayal (83.90), Agroforestal Chanjul, S.A. de C.V. (82.78), Finca Alamos (82.65)
Nicaragua (with nine farms participating) 83.38 Jesus María (85.13), Cafetalera Monimbó, S.A. (84.90), Finca Buenas Aires (84.13)

The next round of the Rainforest Alliance Cupping for Quality event is scheduled to take place in December at the Specialty Coffee Association (SCAA) Grading Room, in Long Beach, California. Coffees from Brazil, Peru, Kenya, Tanzania and Indonesia will be the focus of this event, and results will be announced in early 2011.

The complete results from the May 2010 Cupping for Quality are available online at Cupping for Quality.

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