October 24, 2014

Project Origin – Cup of Excellence, Colombia

This year Cup of Excellence was held in the Huila region of Neiva in Colombia. 

Most coffee in Colombia, approximately 95% is grown by small producers and in most regions these small producers pick, process and sun dry their own coffee. They then sell it to the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) and other exporting companies.

Small producers are guaranteed to get paid on the same day that they deliver their coffee. This is the only country where producers can take their COE lots to competition and get paid straight away, and those that make it through to auction get paid extra. 70% of the bidding price goes to the producer, the other 40% goes  for milling, packing and administration fees.

Coffee in Colombia is mostly graded by size, which is not always relevant to cup quality.

– Smaller beans 14 plus are called Excelso
– Larger beans 16 + are Supremo and there is also Supremo 18+.

Several days before the Cup of Excellence I took the opportunity to visit the Cauca, Antioquia and Huila regions and had several cupping sessions with different exporters and producers. Quite a few times I actually tasted better quality coffee from the Excelso preparation than the Supremo even though the Excelso is cheaper.

Some exporting companies have an excellent system where they separate coffee as follows,

– A: 80 – 82 pts
– AA: 84 to 86 pts
– AAA: 86 + pts

Colombia is a country where coffee is picked every single month of the year with 6 growing regions and also 2 pickings per year in most of these regions. This is one of the reasons why COE in Colombia changes every year, to give fair chance to all regions equally.

This year in Huila over 850 coffees entered and the national jury have selected for us 59  coffees. After two days of cupping we selected the top 29 that scored 85+. While cupping these coffees we could clearly tell that there were some exotic, versatile and unique profiles on table.

My favourite profiles were,

Narinjo: beautiful silky body , floral notes tropical sweetness,  citric.
Tolima: panela sweetness with caramel notes medium body and mandarin acidity.
Cauca: distinct big body chocolate,  grape acidity.
Antioquia: this was a surprise for me with distinct blackcurrant notes, big body, chocolate, grapes juicy and long vanilla finish.

This year Carmen Cecilia Montoya Patiño from Antioquia won with 91.31 points with notes of blackcurrant, plum grapes, cacao, complex body, phosphoric acidity, brown sugar sweetness and long vanilla finish.

Project Origin managed to purchase some really unique coffees from the COE Colombia Auction, with unique and distinct profiles.

We found a distinct mint flavour, which we’ve never tasted in coffee before. Only two coffees had this distinct characteristic.

Interested in buying? Box  price is 15.90 per kg
Please contact Sasa Sestic at for more details.






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