November 2009

Brazil's Cup of Excellence Competition – Touring the Farms

I spent Sunday and Monday traveling through Minas Gerais, meeting other farmers and visiting their farms. I was fortunate to be able to spend Sunday visiting Fazenda Sant’ana (“St. Anne’s Farm”), this year’s second place COE finisher Sr. Paulo Sérgio Noronha Barleta’s estate, located outside of Olimpio Noronha, a small community of about 2,500 people a few kilometers west of Carmo de Minas, MG. On Monday, it was my pleasure to visit the Sr. Junqueira’s Carmo Estate operation, and spent the day touring his impressive operation. Read more »

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Brazil's Cup of Excellence Competition – World Class Farming

The Cup of Excellence award ceremony in Machado, Brazil was preceded by an opportunity to sit down with some of the finalist farmers that had traveled to the competition site. Read more »

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Brazil's Cup of Excellence Competition – Coffee’s Journey to the International Jury

To get to the COE’s international jury, a coffee must pass through two previous competitions. The first is held immediately after the harvest, and is open to all growers that believe they have had an exceptional harvest. Needless to say, hundreds of samples are submitted! The vetting by the national judges reduces the assortment down to a more manageable group of about 100 coffees. Two weeks before the international competition, the second national competition is held to go through the initial 100 coffees to further narrow the field. So every coffee we start with ad already  passed through two rounds of competition, where each had been carefully roasted and then tasted – literally – hundreds of times. Read more »

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Brazil's Cup of Excellence Competition – Cup of Excellence Program

The structure of the Brazilian Cup of Excellence competition was pretty much the same as the other COE competitions I’ve done elsewhere around the world. The basic structure calls for Monday through Thursday being dedicated to the actual competition, with Friday devoted to re-cupping the top ten coffees and then capped by meetings with the farmers. Friday evening is the ceremony where the winning coffees are announced and their proud farmers accept their awards. Saturday and Sunday is usually devoted to field trips to meet the winning farmers at their farms  (whenever possible), or visiting other growers and mills in the region to get a better idea of the agricultural practices in the region. Read more »

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Notes from Brazil's Cup of Excellence Competition – Road to Machado

I arrived in-country at the airport in São Paulo on Sunday morning, after 17 hours of travel from Portland. Over the years I’ve gotten used to these long-haul flights, but was pretty tired nonetheless by the time I got to Brazil. A seeming common element of every Cup of Excellence competition that I have ever attended is that the competition is actually held somewhere out in the coffee regions, which never seem to be conveniently located adjacent to the airport. I’m secretly glad that this is how they are organized, as it is great to be out of the big cities and in the rural areas where the coffees are grown, but this almost always means an additional 3 or 4 hours travel by van or bus from the airport to the competition site. But after these long flights, all I really want is a shower and some food. And a couple of cups of nice coffee wouldn’t hurt my feelings! Read more »

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Notes from Brazil's Cup of Excellence Competition – Year of the Big Beans

I just returned to Portland from helping judge the most recent 2009 Cup of Excellence® competition, which was held during the end of November in Machado, Brazil. It was a fantastic competition, held in an amazing coffee producing country I have wanted to visit for many years. Read more »

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Rwandan Appellations and the Road Home

OK, so it’s really cool here and all, but I gotta tell you, it’s a long time! Can’t wait to get home and see the fam and get back into the grind. Lots of stories to tell you, and most of them will be the honest truth.
I think I’m gonna get a Big Mac soon as I see those arches!! Living on beans, rice, goat, beef, and chicken, prepared about two ways is getting to me. Read more »

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Rain, Le Nez de Café and more Cupping

It’s Nov 18, I think. Nice day today. It rained like crazy last night. Lighting and thunder, the whole works. Read more »

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More Cupping in Rwanda and the King's Hut

Paul Songer has the process for this project mapped out really well. He also has an excellent awareness of statistical data. Seven primary coffee growing regions in Rwanda had been identified as potential appellations. Last year, the panel, with deep experience in this sort of cupping (descriptive cupping that is) narrowed this down to three by cupping each numerous times over the year and coming to the conclusion there are three three primary character differences. Read more »

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Paul Thornton descriptive cupping in Rwanda

The internet connections in Rwanda are really good, but the ability to use them is not. It’s great for anything like checking e-mail or opening a simple web site, but not for, say, something like opening a file. Read more »

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