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Rainforest Alliance Cupping for Quality Scores Announced at Sustainable Coffee Breakfast

Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM farms in Panama, Ethiopia, Peru, Colombia and Mexico earned top scores at the Rainforest Alliance’s Spring Cupping for Quality, held at Balzac Brothers and Company’s Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) certified cupping lab in Charleston, South Carolina. The results were announced this morning at the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Coffee Breakfast at the SCAA annual event in Boston, MA.

A total of 77 coffees from 12 countries received scores above 80, the threshold for the specialty categorization according to the SCAA cupping protocol. The highest score—89.9 points—went to Hacienda La Esmeralda, a farm in southwest Panama with 331 production acres (134 hectares). Second place was awarded to Banko Gotiti, a farm that is part of Ethiopia’s Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (YCFCU), which currently represents over 43,794 farmers belonging to more than 300,000 families.

“Quality of farm output is crucial to the success of any producer,” said Maya Albanese, event hostess and Sustainable Agriculture associate at the Rainforest Alliance. “Through the Rainforest Alliance Cuppings, we are able to provide feedback to producers that will help them improve the quality of their coffees in tandem with implementation of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) sustainable farm management criteria.”

The Top Ten Scoring Coffees:

1. Hacienda La Esmeralda



2. Banko Gotiti



3. Inambari



4. Moredocofe



5. Teppi Green Coffee Estate



6. Ururi



7. Manantiales del Frontino



8. Biloya



9. Los Cedros



10. Finca Kassandra



The scores indicate that sustainable farming practices can contribute to the production of higher quality beans, which make for a better tasting cup of coffee. Rainforest Alliance Certified farms are required to adopt a holistic set of standards that address social, environmental and economic issues.

In an effort to link sustainable farming with cup quality, the Rainforest Alliance established its biannual Cupping for Quality program in 2003. “The value of this linkage and its importance to the producers, roasters, brands, and consumers is just as clear today as it was in 2003 when the Rainforest Alliance Cuppings began,” said Linda Smithers of Daterra Coffee, who also served as the lead cupper.

Spring 2013 Cuppers:

  • Linda Smithers, Daterra Coffee- Lead Cupper
  • Marty Curtis, Combustion Systems Sales & Service- Roaster
  • John Sanders, Hines Public Market- Technical Assistant
  • Gloria Long, Balzac Brothers
  • Joel Shuler, Casa Brasil
  • James Jenkins, Louis Dreyfus Commodities
  • Lowell Grosse, Charleston Roasters
  • Robert Stephen, InterAmerican
  • Alan Nietlisbach, Olam Americas
  • Tim Fallar, S&D
  • Dennis Jackson, Bowtruss
  • Ray Keane, Balzac Brothers

“The Rainforest Alliance cuppings allow experts to evaluate the product, collect important data, and provide meaningful comments back to the farmer,” said Marty Curtis, founder of Combustion Systems Sales & Service, who also roasted all of the coffee samples. “This is win-win situation for all involved.”

This year, Curtis provided a new electronic scoring system to facilitate the collection and analysis of the results, making it a paperless event. “The electronic scoring technology was very intuitive and user-friendly, and it eliminated paper waste,” said Tim Fallar of S&D Coffee & Tea.

In 2012, more than 375,000 metric tons of coffee was produced on Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, an increase of 45 percent over 2011. Coffee from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms now represents over 4.5 percent of global production.

Ramon nut, a sustainable superfood - photo by Sergio Izquierdo

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