The eagerly awaited “Cup of Excellence”, a coffee quality competition, which was scheduled to be held in Ethiopia for the first time, has been canceled and shifted to the US due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Reporter has learnt.
Feed the Future Value Chain Activity, which is under the USAID and the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority, have been working for months to facilitate and arrange the annual coffee quality competition. In the process, the final cupping competition was arranged in a way international and local coffee experts were assigned as judges and juries, who were about to join hands and Grade best Ethiopian coffees.
However, a year-long preparation has now ended and was forced to be shifted to the US. According to statements by the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE), this year’s first ever Ethiopia Cup of Excellence competition required to be moved to the United States, Portland, Oregon where, ACE is stationed.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused travel restrictions making it difficult for the organizers to host the “international coffee week.” Nevertheless, there are some contingency plans considered. The judgment phase will be shifted to the US but the auction for the best outstanding coffee, will still be sold online.
According to the statement, samples of green coffee beans have been shipped to the offices of ACE and judging will be conducted from April 4 to 9, 2020. Darrin Daniel, managing director of ACE said his offices will receive all lots and will bring a small and experienced jury to analyze the samples. Local judges will not be able to partake in the process.
Once, the best coffees are graded and winning farmers are awarded, ACE will hold an online auction in June, which originally was planned to take effect in May.
It is to be recalled that Ethiopia was able to break a record, submitting some 1,450 samples, outnumbering previous records by 400 samples. With two decades of Cup of Excellence competition held throughout Latin America and Africa, Ethiopia was longing to host the quality competition, anticipating the competition will play a decisive role to promote Ethiopia’s organic specialty coffee varieties. That being a big opportunity in itself, the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority was busy in expediting coffee value chains and unveiled a new national coffee brand.
However, the growing concerns is that COVID-19 will further pressure the coffee and the rest of the export sector as travel restrictions impact shipments and movement of cargos.