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Ethiopia to host first Cup of Excellence

The Cup of Excellence (COE) will be held in Ethiopia for the first time in March 2020.

The event is made possible through an ongoing partnership between the Alliance for Coffee Excellence, the Ethiopia Coffee and Tea Authority, United States Agency for International Development, and Feed the Future Ethiopia Value Chain (FTFE-VCA).

“Buy-in across the country from trading houses, cooperatives, and coffee unions has been swift and positive,” says Ian Chesterman, FTFE-VCA Project Director. “Prioritising open collaboration between private and public sectors from the start will help ensure the competition benefits all stakeholders, particularly our smallholder clients.”

The COE will highlight Ethiopian coffee and stimulate new market opportunities for smallholder producers in the country.

“The competition finally came home, where the best natural coffee is produced,” says producer Zenabu Alem. “I look forward to entering my coffee in the competition.”

Dr Adunga Debela, Director General of the Ethiopian Tea and Coffee Authority, says that the COE will open doors for smallholders on the world stage, giving them a platform to showcase Ethiopian coffee.

“Coffee is not just a cash crop for us. It’s part of our tradition and who we are as Ethiopians, the competition is not just a promotional tool for the world market, but also an exciting event for Ethiopia,” says Dr Adunga Debela.

It’s believed that coffee was discovered in Ethiopia 1200 years ago, boasting more than 6000 varieties with 95 per cent of coffee qualifying as organic. Ethiopia is one of the largest coffee producers in Africa, with an annual production exceeding 500,000 tons.

“Nearly two decades after our founding, it has long been the dream to bring the COE to the birthplace of coffee. Ethiopia represents the quintessential specialty coffee origin and with our program operating in Ethiopia, we hope to further discover and reward smallholder farmers who need market access via our competition and auction,” says Darrin Daniel, Executive Director of the Alliance for Coffee Excellence.

The COE is a competition to find the highest quality coffee in any given country. Each year, thousands of coffees are submitted for consideration, with winning coffees sold in global online auctions at premium prices, with the vast majority of auction proceeds go towards farmers.

All of the COE award winners are cupped at least five times (the top ten are cupped again) during the three-week competition. Hundreds of cups are smelled, tasted and judged based on its characteristics.

The COE has been discovering coffees, rewarding growers, and creating markets for these coffees since 1999.

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