October 2015 Subscription Letter
A point of pride among coffee farmers around the world is placement in an annual coffee competition called the Cup Of Excellence. The competition began in 1999, and now includes competitions in Brazil, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, Burundi, Rwanda, Colombia, and Bolivia. Coffee farmers submit their lot for a chance to be considered one of the best coffees in their country. It’s like the 4H fair of coffee at a national level.The Cup of Excellence has supported local farmers in each competing country in a variety of ways, including farming education, quality control, processing, and even micro-lot selection. On top of the educational aspect, farms that place in the Cup of Excellence have their lots go to auction, where some of the top scoring coffees will sell for prices upwards of $25-$30/pound green! Winning lots can provide a huge windfall for a coffee producer and provide them with an opportunity to purchase new equipment, upgrade their processing facilities, or simply hire more people to help keep quality high throughout the entire growing season. We see the Cup of Excellence as a way to incentivize farmers to focus on quality.
One of the coffees we’ve sent you this month has a rich history in the Cup of Excellence. Our newest coffee from Guatemala, Finca Santa Isabel, comes from the Valdes family farm in San Cristóbal Verapaz. This family-owned farm is located in the central Guatemalan department of Alta Verapaz and was first granted to the Valdes family by the Guatemalan president in 1875. While the farm changed hands over the next 75 years, the Valdes family repurchased the land in 1960 and started their current coffee plantation in 1965.
Finca Santa Isabel is now under the direction of Luis “Wicho” Valdes III, son of Luis Valdes, who reclaimed the farm in 1960. Since 2011, the farm has placed in the top 5 at the Cup of Excellence twice, placing 3rd overall in 2012. It’s easy to see how the commitment to quality has benefitted the Valdes family farm, and we’re incredibly excited to offer their coffee (and hard work) to you.
Working with farms like Santa Isabel and the import partners that help bring their coffee to the United States is incredibly important to us here at Tinker Coffee. We firmly believe that farmers who make a commitment to quality should be rewarded for their hard work, both through international recognition and financial means. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on this incredible coffee, and can’t wait to share more exciting and award-winning lots with you in the future.