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Top Scorers from Rainforest Alliance Cupping Announced at SCAA Breakfast

Farms in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Indonesia and Panama have earned top scores from a panel of coffee experts at the 2009 Rainforest Alliance Cupping. Representatives from the Rainforest Alliance announced the results of the cupping on Friday at the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) conference in Atlanta.

The top ranking farms were among 80 Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms in 11 countries that participated in the organization's cupping events in Long Beach, California and New York City last month. Coffee from 94 percent of the participating farms received scores of 80 or above, the threshold score to receive specialty coffee status—demonstrating that sustainable farming practices often contribute to the production of high-quality coffee.

"Rainforest Alliance Certified farms implement better farm practices that result in environmental, social and economic benefits, and those methods tend to result in better conditions for growing coffee," said Sabrina Vigilante, director of markets at the Rainforest Alliance.

Compared to previous years, the coffees this year had fewer defects, such as broken pieces, malformed beans or insect damage, due to guidance at the coffee's origin. The Rainforest Alliance works with farmers to help them document the quality of their coffees, determine defects and make improvements.

To further strengthen the link between sustainability and quality, the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) has partnered with the Rainforest Alliance to connect the Q Coffee System, which certifies high-quality specialty coffees, with the network of Rainforest Alliance Certified™ coffee farms. Once coffees have been graded and certified as "Q," the Q Certificate can be linked directly to the Rainforest Alliance online Marketplace, where users can trace coffee through the supply chain, from exporter to importer to roaster. Now, in addition to knowing that their coffee was grown in a way that conserves the environment and improves livelihoods, buyers of Rainforest Alliance Certified coffees can identify the coffee quality and profile they seek.

The 10 top scoring farms were from eight different origins and received scores of 84 or above:

Farm Score
Hacienda La Esmeralda (Panama) 88.99
Santa Elisa Pachup (Guatemala) 85.74
La Pampa (Guatemala) 84.96
Finca Santa Anita (Costa Rica) 84.92
Grupo Asociativo San Isidro (Colombia) 84.58
Sumatra Mandheling Rainforest (Indonesia) 84.56
Capoeirinha - Ipanema Coffees (Brazil) 84.44
Fazenda Lambari (Brazil) 84.31
Gemadro Coffee Plantation (Ethiopia) 84.18
Monte Siona (El Salvador) 84.17

Twenty experienced, volunteer cuppers—representing coffee roasters, retailers and trading companies -- evaluated the coffees based on: fragrance/aroma, uniformity, sweetness, clean cup, acidity, defects, flavor, body, balance and after-taste.

"Central America, in general, had a tough time with regard to quality this year due to weather," said Shawn Hamilton, lead cupper and vice president of plant operations and coffee buyer for Java City. "But this really proves the point that if you farm properly using programs like the Rainforest Alliance, you can minimize some of those effects and maintain quality."

The Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal is awarded to farms that have met the environmental, social and economic standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), a coalition of local conservation organizations that first set the standard for sustainable farming in rainforest areas in the early 1990s. The SAN standards cover ecosystem conservation, worker rights and safety, wildlife protection, water and soil conservation, agrochemical reduction and education for farm children.

The average scores from farms in participating countries and the three highest scoring farms in each country were:

Country Score Top Three Scores
(with six farms participating)
83.83 Santa Elisa Pachup (85.74), La Pampa (84.96), San Diego Buena Vista (83.75)
El Salvador (with six farms participating) 83.30 Monte Siona (84.17), Las Mercedes (84.13), San Jose (83.39)
Costa Rica (with 10 farms participating) 82.58 Finca Santa Anita (84.92), Rincón Socola (83.56), Espíritu Santo Estate Coffee (83.18)
Brazil (with 10 farms participating) 82.42 Capoeirinha - Ipanema Coffees (84.44), Fazenda Lambari (84.31), Pinheiros - Sete Cachoeiras State Coffee (83.33)
Colombia (with 24 farms participating) 82.30 Grupo Asociativo San Isidro (84.58), Grupo Aguadas (83.94), Grupo Anserma (83.90)
Nicaragua (with six farms participating) 82.13 Selva Negra (83.49), Los Placeres (82.97), Finca Orgánica y Reserva El Jaguar (82.13)
Honduras (with 7 farms participating) 80.57 El Derrumbo (81.65), La Guama (80.96), El Cascajal (80.83)
Mexico (with eight farms participating) 80.25 Finca Arroyo Negro (82.87), Finca Kassandra (82.64), Oaxacafé (82.61)

Panama, Indonesia and Ethiopia each had only one farm participating.

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