The most prestigious coffee quality contest was born in Brazil. In the city of Lavras, Campo das Vertentes region (countryside of Minas Gerais state), cuppers, international judges, researchers, and coffee growers gathered and celebrated two decades of Cup of Excellence (CoE) in October.
During an entire week last month, the coffee world turned to Campo das Vertentes, where the representatives of the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE), the Brazilian Specialty Coffee Association, the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (APEX) as well as some founders of the CoE program held this year’s edition in Brazil. 2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the competition and this edition has been highly symbolic as it is taking place at the same place where it all started 20 years ago.
In addition to numerous cupping sessions, the international jury had the opportunity to visit coffee farms and export facilities and experience the terroir of Campo das Vertentes, which is currently undergoing procedures for geographical indication. The tour was hosted by SanCoffee, a local exporting co-op that has been a major driving force for quality coffee in this region. Other activities during the week highlighted coffee research presented by the Federal University of Lavras, particularly the work coordinated by Dr. Flavio Borem, Ph.D as well as a new project carried out by the Agronomic Institute of Campinas, which holds the largest germplasm bank for coffee in the world and has been re-examining old varieties in terms of quality potential and adaptation in different growing conditions.
Coffee All Stars
In this occasion, thanks to the 20th anniversary celebration, some very important names of the specialty coffee industry came to Lavras. The list includes George Howell, Susie Spindler, Hidetaka Hayashi, Kentaro Maruyama, Silvio Leite, Marcelo Vieira, Martin Diedrich, and Jim Reynolds, among others. They joined the international jury or took part in some of the cupping sessions under the supervision of the Head Judge Eduardo Ambrocio from Guatemala.
This year, a total of 442 samples were submitted to CoE Brazil, representing a myriad of producing areas within the country. Only 40 samples reached the final stage of the competition. According to Eduardo Ambrocio, “Quality was excellent, we were able to find a large array of cup profiles, including some very complex tastes.” Out of these 40 samples, five coffees scored above 90 points and therefore received the Presidential Winner distinction from CoE.
Reaching the Top
This year’s champion was André Aguila, whose farm Fazenda Pai e Filho is located in Ibiraci, Minas Gerais. The farm comprises 10 hectares in coffee, which is managed by Aguila’s wife Lilian Carrijo and her father. The winning lot comes from the Yellow Catuaí variety and was processed by traditional natural method, dried in a concrete patio. His achievement is unprecedented, because he is also the current national champion of World Cup Tasters Championship.
Silvio Leite, who was in the international jury and is also a founder of CoE declared during the awards ceremony that, “The final top10 table was extraordinary, but Aguila’s coffee in particular had a multidimensional characteristic, each time we cupped it, new remarkable flavors were being released, always very clean and sweet,” and he added, “A coffee of rare complexity, one of the few times I have scored a coffee 100 points. This is a super champion.”
Aguila was truly moved by the prize, “This has been a very intense year for me. We are located in Ibiraci, part of the Alta Mogiana region and this coffee is the result of the partnership and exchanging experiences among producers.” On his recipe for success, Aguila prefers to keep some secrecy, “This coffee stood out from the beginning; we used very slow drying and few small secret (methods).”
The lot from Fazenda Pai e Filho achieved a final average score of 92.23 and will be auctioned by CoE on November 26th, along with 26 other lots, all above 87 points.
Contributor: Mariana Proença
Content Director of Espresso Magazine and Curator of Brazil International Coffee Week
Translated by Allan Botrel (Portuguese to English)