The Cup of Excellence

The Cup of Excellence

You may have heard about the cup of excellence, but what exactly is it?

The Cup of Excellence is a competition held in 10 coffee producing countries. The idea is to find the best coffee produced from a country from a particular harvest. Each country selects the best sample to enter the competition. A huge number of samples can be entered from 300 to over 900 samples.

International Jury

From this huge number of samples around 60 go through to an international jury. The jury is made up of coffee buyers from all around the world. They cup the coffee and taste completely blind so that no bias can come into the judging. The highest score can be 100, all coffees that score over 84 go through to the second stage.

About 20-45 samples get into the second round. From this a top 10 is chosen and the cupping goes on. Only the best quality coffees go through to auction. In total, coffees are cupped at least 5 times during a competition which goes on for three weeks.

There are no set number of winners, the award will be given to any coffee that continues to pass the cupping process.

What Is The Jury Looking For?       

They will be looking for the flavours that are characteristics of the country the bean is from. The experts will be looking for body, aroma and the right sweetness.


When a coffee makes an auction the farmer is well rewarded. The farmer will get more at this auction than selling anywhere else. The whole point of this competition is to encourage quality and to reward it fairly. The people that buy these coffees will then sell them on at a premium price to consumers happy to pay for such great quality.

Do Farmers Benefit From The Cup of Excellence?

Many people argue that this is better than Fairtrade coffee as it rewards excellence and quality. The premiums that are paid at auction for beans that make it can change the life of a farmer. Evidence suggests that it can change the lives of a farm, village, workers and all supporting infrastructure like schools.

Which Countries Offer the Cup of Excellence?

Currently the programme takes place in 10 countries in East Africa and in Central and South America. Countries are Brazil, Burundi, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Rwanda.

Who Runs The Cup of Excellence?

The cup of excellence is run by the Alliance for Coffee excellence.

 So if you ever see the Cup of Excellence label you now know what it has gone through to get the prestigious label.

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