Friday, April 29, 2011
What coffee should I buy?
Rainforest Alliance Cupping for Quality Scores Announced at Sustainable Coffee Breakfast
Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms in Colombia, Ethiopia, Honduras, El Salvador, India, Mexico and Guatemala earned top marks at the Rainforest Alliance’s spring Cupping for Quality event. The results were announced this morning at the annual Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Coffee Breakfast at the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s (SCAA’s) annual tradeshow in Houston, Texas.
A total of 76 samples from 10 origins were submitted to the spring cupping event, which took place at the InterContinental Exchange Grading Room in New York City in early April. A panel of expert cuppers, representing a combined 150 years of experience in the coffee industry, participated in the two-and-half-day event. The samples were prepared by Marty Curtis of Combustion Systems Sales & Service, and cuppers used a cutting-edge iPod app -- developed specifically to reduce paper use during coffee grading -- to record their scores.
The highest score -- 89 points -- went to the Aguadas group from Colombia. Located in the Andean rainforest in the north of the country, the group has over 4400 acres (1800 hectares) under certification, at an altitude of over 6800 feet (2100 meters). For the first time in the history of the Rainforest Alliance Cupping, all of the samples scored above 80, the threshold for specialty coffee. Fourteen samples achieved scores of 85 or higher -- an indication that sustainable farming practices can contribute to the production of high-quality coffee. Rainforest Alliance certification requires the implementation of strict criteria covering best social and environmental farm management practices. In an effort to link sustainable farming with cup quality, the Rainforest Alliance developed its Cupping for Quality program in 2003.
“Certification is most beneficial to coffee farming communities when it results in quality crops, and in Rainforest Alliance’s case it does,” explains Linda Smithers, a long time champion of the Rainforest Alliance Cupping for Quality event and former president of the SCAA. “When we taste coffee produced through best practices, we see a more consistently high quality product.”
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