It is said that more than 70 countries in the world produce coffee. Albeit their contributions to the global coffee production may vary.
But that is 70 countries with hundreds, if not more, coffee farms churning out coffees from different micro-lots, plants, of varying grades, etc.
Imagine how many coffees there are in the world that you never even get to hear about, let alone taste.
This is where coffee awards come into the picture.
There are several local and international coffee competitions where coffee farmers and roasters enter their products. These coffees then undergo several rounds of evaluation by experts in the country as well as international judges.
When the results are out, you can be sure that the spotlight is placed on a product that is a class apart from others.
Some of these coffee awards have been around for a couple of decades, and others are still older. Regardless, they are integral to the industry in more than one way.
International Coffee Awards
The Cup of Excellence is a coffee award that has been around since 1999. It operates in over 10 countries.
Each year, hundreds of farmers participate in an attempt to secure the top position. The winning coffee is then placed in an auction wherein the partner companies bid on the coffee. This is an excellent initiative as it can bring in a lot more revenue than the farmers would otherwise get for their produce.
This opportunity connects farmers to buyers directly, which helps them foster connections within the global market; connections that they would otherwise have no access to.
Cup of Excellence has been known to play a crucial role in spreading education and providing access to resources so that farmers can better their craft.
On a somewhat different note, the Golden Bean is an award that caters to coffee roasters and not coffee farmers as in the case of Cup of Excellence.
Golden Bean is a coffee roasting competition that assesses coffees based on various categories such as filter, decaf, milk-based, espresso, etc.
It’s an annual competition in Australia and North America. This year, they also have a world series where coffee roasters from across the world come together to display their best products.
Golden Bean creates networking opportunities by bringing in experts so that those brands that are determined to give it their all are abreast of all the innovation and trends in the market.
The third coffee award is called the Ernesto Illy International Coffee Awards. It was established by illycaffè, an Italian coffee company, and brings something interesting to the coffee awards scene.
Every year, they identify 3 lots from 9 coffee-producing countries that have contributed to the blends offered by the brand. These 27 crops are then assessed by critics as well as customers.
Having started in 2016, this award not only focuses on taste but also sustainability as that was a vision important to the founder of illycaffè.
Importance of Coffee Awards
For starters, coffee awards motivate farmers and coffee roasters alike.
One of the biggest problems that small coffee businesses face is visibility. When big players take up significant space in the market, new businesses and farmers must work against the tide to be known.
So when platforms like these level the playing ground and give them an opportunity to be seen, it motivates them to strive harder to improve the quality of their coffees.
With coffee producers raising the bar on what is considered quality coffee, the industry sees a boom. Many times, coffee exports bring in significant revenue for the nation.
In turn, governments begin to pay attention and help the industry grow further by creating reforms and subsidies that support the people involved in the trade. Ultimately, businesses expand, more people are employed, and farmers get paid better.
Several coffee awards emphasize on sustainable practices and also take into consideration companies that prioritise the environment just as much as they prioritise their customers.
In doing so, they encourage more companies to become environment friendly and overall become an industry whose operations aren’t as damaging to the planet.
Finally, customers have better access to good coffees. This is probably one of the best benefits of having coffee awards and competitions.
Devout coffee enthusiasts can today purchase single origins from different parts of the world; something that would’ve been unfathomable a few decades ago.
“Award-winning” may seem to you a label that coffee farmers and roasters use to market their products. But it’s more than that.
It carries with it the essence of a system that recognizes every individual who is an essential part of the process and who contributes to the global coffee culture in some small yet meaningful way.