Back in December of 2016 the Passenger green buying team was part of the jury for a competition hosted and organized by Fairfield Trading, our friends and exporting partner in Colombia. The competition was called the Acevedo Cup and the purpose was to highlight the finest coffees from the municipality of Acevedo, in southern Huila, from the 2016 main harvest which, this past year, ran roughly from October-December.
The competition was challenging - in the best possible way. The overwhelming number of excellent coffees put the jury in the lucky position of focusing on which coffees were truly the best of the best. This is not typically the case when it comes to coffee buying. Frequently, while sourcing coffees, we are put in the position of sorting through a sea of mediocre coffees to find those that truly stand out. The excellent curation that was presented to the jury at the Acevedo Cup was 100% the result of hard work and excellent execution by the team at Fairfield Trading who tirelessly, rigorously and mercilessly screened through hundreds of samples to present roughly 60 at the competition.
The criteria for entry into the competition was fairly simple and was made clear to producers by the Fairfield team:
- The moisture content had to be between 10% and 11%.
- The yield factor, which is a measurement of defective coffee that will be removed during the dry milling step (the final step before exportation), had to be <90. This means that it will take 90 kilograms of parchment coffee to yield one 70 kilogram bag of finished green coffee. As weight is lost during the dry milling process (due to the parchment, which is the final protective layer surrounding the unroasted coffee, being removed), an 88 would be a virtually perfect yield factor. Meaning, if 88 kilograms of coffee had its parchment removed and no defects were removed, the resulting weight would be 70 kilograms, which is one bag of coffee by Colombian export standards (export units vary by country). The national average is 94. As such, 88 is a quite strict yield factor requirement.
- And finally, the cup score had to be an 86+. Scoring coffee is a way to quantifiably analyze and express the quality of the coffee from the perspective of taste. While taste is of course subjective to a certain degree, many industry professionals, the green buying team at Passenger included, find scoring coffee very useful as a means of communicating with colleagues. The Colombian based Fairfield Trading cupping team is quite talented, to say the least. Further, our green buying team is remarkably calibrated with the team in Colombia.
Of the hundreds of entries, 60 some coffees passed the above standards. Those coffees were then evaluated by the Acevedo Cup jury over a period of three days. In the end we had ranked the top 20. All of the top 20 coffees had been cupped three times by the end. Every round the coffees were evaluated blindly. That is to say, the names of the coffees were not known from round to round. In fact it was not until the very end of the competition that the jurors were told which coffees were grown by which producers. All successful entries into the competition were paid handsome premiums. The top 20 were paid quite high premiums. The top 10, and especially the top 3 were paid remarkably good prices for their coffees.
This lot, from Fernando Bustos, placed second at the Acevedo cup. Fernando has owned a coffee farm for quite some time, however, for many years he was living in Ibagué, the capital of the Tolima department, leaving his farm to be overseen by his brother, Miller. On intuition Fernando decided to move back to Acevedo and to focus on producing specialty coffee, something he had never done before. With the announcement of the Acevedo Cup, Fernando worked the best he could and we could not be more pleased with the results. This is a stunningly sweet coffee that so powerfully encapsulates what our green buying team refers to as the “Acevedo character.” For the green buying team “Acevedo character “ translates to caramel, cooked fruit (berries and stone fruits) and baking spice qualities.
In The Cup
- Browning sugar and baking spice aromatics lead into a cup awash with cooked berry qualities. This is an incredibly sweet and juicy coffee, and an excellent example of what the Acevedo municipality is capable of.
- In December of 2016 the Passenger green buying team took place in the Acevedo Cup, a juried competition to find, highlight and reward the best coffees from the 2016 main harvest in Acevedo, southern Huila. This lot, from producer Fernando Bustos, won not only our hearts, but also second prize in the competition.