Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v04n03)
Coffee Corner - One Small Step for Columbian Coffee, One Giant Leap for Womankind - by Heidi Huff
posted: Feb. 09, 2007
One Small Step for Columbian Coffee, One Giant Leap for Womankind
Edith Encisco Yasso did something no Columbian woman had ever done. Something that just a year beforehand she, and many other women, had only dreamed of. Yasso is now the first woman in Columbian history to win the first-place trophy in the Cup of Excellence competition. Women owned farms have placed in the competition and have even been presidential winners, meaning they scored at least a 90 out of a possible 100 points. They have not, however, taken top place. That is, until this year. Until Edith Yasso.
Yasso's coffee, and the others that were selected in the competition, endured a rigorous selection process. A given coffee has to pass through three different phases and is cupped five separate times. The top ten coffees are then cupped a sixth and final time to rank their finishing order. This time out of hundreds of entries, that finishing order included Yasso in the top spot. On winning the COE trophy she said, "I am so very happy, I just can not believe that I have won! I was 25th in the competition in 2005, and after that I was doing every single step in the right way to produce a better coffee. Now I know that all my effort is awarded."
Her recognition came only after passing through the three stages of pre-selection, national jury, and international jury. First, the pre-selection process reduces the number to approximately 150 entrants through visual inspection and cupping analysis. Cuppings are conducted with ten or less coffees per table. That's a lot of cuppings - you do the math.
Second, The National Jury Stage consists of two cupping rounds that last about five days. The first of these rounds is about three days and all of the now pre-screened coffees are cupped and scored. The second round consists of only the top 80 entrants which is then reduced to the top 60, each scoring over 80 points.
Finally, these top 60 move forward to the international stage of competition. This process consists of 5 days of cupping. On the first day there is a calibration to ensure that all coffees are being judged on the same grounds. On the second and third days the international jury gets down to business and cups all the coffees passed on by the national jury. On the fourth day the most intense cupping round begins: this jury will cup about 45 coffees that have passed the first round. Coffees scoring an 84 or above during this round are awarded the Cup of Excellence. On the fifth and final day of cupping, the top ten coffees are cupped one more time to rank them and discover the first place winner.
This is the 28th competition for the Cup of Excellence program. It is devoted to the recognition of exemplary coffee worldwide. It is managed by the US based non-profit group Alliance for Coffee Excellence, Inc., in conjunction with coffee-producing countries. For more information about the program and its winning farms, visit www.cupofexcellence.org.