September 10, 2010 Pasto, Nariño, Colombia
What a great week I have spent in Colombia as a International Judge for the Cup of Excellence (COE). 28 international judges from 10 countries and 5 continents around the world came together to find the best coffee in Colombia.
The search started over 5 weeks ago as a national panel sorted through 875 different coffees submitted from all over Colombia. The top 51 were cupped by us, the International Jury, this week. From 875 to 51, to 28, to the final 10 that we cupped today [September 10, 2010]. Without a doubt the final table was a great one and maybe the best in COE history.
The top coffee was given a score of 95 or above by 17 of the 28 judges, including myself. Every time I tasted this coffee as it cooled I found another dimension and flavor, it was so complete and great. While discussing this particular coffee, one judge from Brazil described it as a Christmas present.
But that was not the only great coffee on the table or the only highlight so far. After the cupping a group of 50+ farmers met with us, the judges, to discuss many topics in Colombian coffee; from what we look for, coffee prices and where do we go from here.
A question I addressed to the group was the current high prices in the market and how it has transplanted within the farms. Many farmers and producers shared the additional cash flows have improved better harvesting for future crops and has provided a better living style though out the community, especially the children who have gain better education opportunities.
The most important reminder I took from our discussion with the farmers was the difficulties of a farmers life, many work 12 intense labor hours a day, returning home to cook, clean and raise their children. It's comforting to know in these challenging times, higher prices have assisted in improving their way of life and are appreciative of everyone's efforts.
Reminding us, to be thankful for our next cup of brew.