It was pretty much a dream to be able to represent Bird Rock Coffee Roasters internationally for my first project back.

by Jocylynn Breeland, General Manager at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters.  This is Jocylynn’s third trip to origin and this trip was our first participating in the Cup of Excellence.


Cup of Excellence (COE) is likely the most prestigious award that a coffee could receive and currently ten coffee growing countries participate in the event. The Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) is a non-profit American company that works with the hosting place of origin to provide a country wide competition for the best coffees each year. The goal of COE and ACE is to advance coffee excellence worldwide. After rigorous evaluations and analyzing 1000’s of cups of coffee the winners in each country are announced. This competition allows the winning farmers to receive the highest premiums for their crop as the lots are auctioned off with global notoriety.

Each farmer may enter one coffee free of charge and this competition is held once per year. Any farmer or cooperative is invited to participate from any growing region with in that country. The COE competition involves six rounds of cuppings and two panels of judges. All of the coffees are cupped blind to ensure no bias.
The first three rounds of analysis is preformed by a national jury composed of experienced of professional cuppers from the country of origin. The first round or preselection can be comprised of a maximum of 150 coffees and all coffees must score at least 85 out of 100 points in every round to stay in the competition. Round two of cupping narrows down the lots to 90, and then again to a maximum of 60 in the third and final national jury round.

These finalist coffees are then cupped multiple times by an international jury over one week. The COE Mexico 2013 international panel was composed of highly skilled and professional cuppers from the U.S., Mexico, Guatemala, Germany, Australia, Japan and Korea. The 60 coffees forwarded by the national jury are then brought down to 45 for round 5. The sixth and final round is held with special attention and rigor because this will be determine each coffees ranking and final assigned score.

2013 was the second year of participation in COE for Mexico. Mexico is responsible for over 3 million bags of exported coffee making it the 7th largest coffee producing country in the world. COE was not only designed to represent the highest quality coffees of that year in each country but to encourage growth in the specialty coffee industry at origin. The coffees that make it to the international panel of judges is most likely the most exemplary representation of that country of origin’s best inherent crop characteristics. Mexican coffees are known for their signature balance and nutty flavors with buttery texture.

Another amazing function of the COE competition is completing the circle between producers to cuppers to buyers. All of the parties involved gain valuable information in regards to current crop qualities and global profile demands.

During my preliminary introduction to COE as an observing judge, I have never experienced such a unique array of coffees to represent any region or country. Now that I’ve made it through the COE training and initiation I hold hopes of next season being selected to join an international jury as an official judge. Participating countries include Brazil, Burundi, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Rwanda…Wish me luck!