The Cup of Excellence is the most prestigious award given to a fine quality coffee. The level of scrutiny that Cup of Excellence coffees undergo is unmatched anywhere in the coffee industry. All of the Cup of Excellence award winners are cupped at least 5 times (the 'Top 10' are cupped again) during the 3-week competition. During this selection process, thousands of cups are evaluated, tasted and scored based on their exemplary characteristics. The prices that these winnings coffees receive at auction have broken records and proven that there is a huge demand for these rare farmer identified coffees.
The Cup of Excellence has created a much more transparent infrastructure for high quality coffee. Roasters can now identify, find and build relationships with growers of superior coffees. It brings together the high quality roaster and the high quality farmer and helps both understand and appreciate the nuances and flavor profiles of rare exemplary coffees. It has changed the pricing structure for farmers and has discovered many of the incredible coffees that have built consumer excitement and loyalty.
The Cup of Excellence program is designed to allow any farmer in the country to submit one sample without any fee. It is one of the few programs that levels the playing field and does its best to support equal access and success for all farmers, regardless of their size or financial status.
The Cup of Excellence name is protected and only those coffees that win are allowed to use this recognition. This award is not given to the entire farm – only to the coffee lot that was submitted to the competition and which has been stored in the secure warehouse. The samples cupped for the competition are taken from the lots that have been secured and monitored by an outside auditor.
The farmer receives the majority of the auction proceeds. These proceeds are based on the price paid at auction but the farmer can expect to receive more than 80% of the final price. The remaining auction proceeds are paid to the in-country organizing committee to help pay for the program.
Everything about the Cup of Excellence is open and transparent and the farmers usually watch the auction so they know both the buyer and the auction price. There is also a page on the website for them to calculate the commission which will be paid to the organizers.