Release #3: Francisco Valencia C.O.E. 2018
This spectacular lot, featured on Passenger’s Reserve lot menu in 2018-2019, was awarded 11th place in Mexico's 2018 Cup of Excellence. It was produced by Francisco Javier Montiel Valencia on his farm Huehuetecpan and is a beautifully processed field blend of the Caturra, Garnica, and Mundo Novo varieties. In the cup, Francisco’s coffee is delightfully sweet and balanced with flavors of ripe cherry, cocoa, and caramel.
The Cup of Excellence is a rigorous competition, founded in 1999, that is conducted with the goal of selecting and bringing to market the finest coffees from any given country of origin. This is done via a process of blind analysis, first by a National Jury of roughly a dozen people (who, themselves, are rigorously vetted for the honor of being a Cup of Excellence judge), and then by an International Jury comprised of roughly 20 industry professionals from around the globe. As each lot enters the competition process it is assigned a code known only to the competition auditor. Each lot is cupped (tasted) numerous times. The further along the competition a coffee progresses the greater the number of times it has been blindly evaluated.
After being awarded a final rank, the competition coffees are sold through an online auction
which traditionally drives prices quite high. Overall this is a net positive for producers and the industry at large as it incentivizes farmers to carefully produce the best possible coffee to submit to the competition, thus treating the crop as a truly specialty item and further distancing and distinguishing specialty coffee from commodity coffee and the commodity coffee approach to producing and selling coffee. Further, it normalizes high prices for coffee - a necessity if coffee production is to continue into the foreseeable future. Finally, it acts as a platform to bring farmers’ coffee to market and connects them directly to buyers, thus empowering producers.
Though Huehuetecpan is located at 1,350 meters above sea level, a relatively low elevation for specialty coffee production, the microclimate of the region is quite cold and humid - conditions we have seen to have great potential in producing wonderfully fruited and complex coffees. That said, they are also conditions that can prove difficult for properly drying coffees. Francisco did a wonderful job drying this lot which is, in our opinion, a masterpiece.