I was very excited to be on the jury for the first-ever Rwanda Cup of Excellence coffee competition in late August 2008.
In fact, it is the first The Cup of Excellence is a competition held yearly in many coffee-producing countries, designed to highlight the very best coffees from each origin.: The Cup of Excellence (COE)... in Africa, which is either a blessing or a curse. Curse?
Well, in the promotion of great coffee, CoE is unparalleled. But recent auctions have had extremely high bids on the top lots, and erratic bidding. I worry this sets up the farmers and mills with unrealistic expectations about the relationship between quality coffee and great prices.
We all want the high prices to be a message to the farmers, and a model to increase cup quality and better the lives of farmers. I hope it all works out, and if there was country that could pull it off, it would be Rwandan coffee was, at one time, rarely seen in the United States as either a Specialty grade or low-end commercial coffee. There simply was not that much coffee....
There are so many good minds here, so many initiatives to improve lives and seek out an economic formula that works in a land traumatized by genocide, where the land is overused, and there’s just not enough of it.
I am betting the CoE will help, and that this competition will continue successfully in Rwanda for the future. -Tom
PS: There’s just too many great photos and not enough time to caption them all. Even without descriptions, I wanted to share them anyway.