Rainforest Alliance Cupping for Quality Scores Announced at Sustainable Coffee Breakfast

Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms in Colombia, Ethiopia, Honduras, El Salvador, India, Mexico and Guatemala earned top marks at the Rainforest Alliance’s spring Cupping for Quality event. The results were announced at the annual Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Coffee Breakfast at the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s (SCAA’s) annual tradeshow in Houston, Texas.

A total of 76 samples from 10 origins were submitted to the spring cupping event, which took place at the InterContinental Exchange Grading Room in New York City in early April. A panel of expert cuppers, representing a combined 150 years of experience in the coffee industry, participated in the two-and-half-day event. The samples were prepared by Marty Curtis of Combustion Systems Sales & Service, and cuppers used a cutting-edge iPod app — developed specifically to reduce paper use during coffee grading — to record their scores.

The highest score — 89 points — went to the Aguadas group from Colombia. Located in the Andean rainforest in the north of the country, the group has over 4400 acres (1800 hectares) under certification, at an altitude of over 6800 feet (2100 meters). For the first time in the history of the Rainforest Alliance Cupping, all of the samples scored above 80, the threshold for specialty coffee. Fourteen samples achieved scores of 85 or higher — an indication that sustainable farming practices can contribute to the production of high-quality coffee. Rainforest Alliance certification requires the implementation of strict criteria covering best social and environmental farm management practices. In an effort to link sustainable farming with cup quality, the Rainforest Alliance developed its Cupping for Quality program in 2003. 

“Certification is most beneficial to coffee farming communities when it results in quality crops, and in Rainforest Alliance’s case it does,” explains Linda Smithers, a long time champion of the Rainforest Alliance Cupping for Quality event and former president of the SCAA. “When we taste coffee produced through best practices, we see a more consistently high quality product.”

The nine cuppers at the spring 2011 Cupping for Quality were:

  • Linda Smithers, Lead Cupper
  • Allen Leibowitz, Zingerman’s Coffee Co.
  • Jordan Hooper, Louis Dreyfus Commodities
  • Marty Curtis, Combustion Systems Sales & Service
  • Michael Perz, Timothy’s Coffee
  • Mike Love, Coffee Labs Roasters
  • Richard Clermont, Van Houtte
  • Stephen Schulman, S&D
  • Steve Colten, Atlantic USA

Full results from the spring 2011 Cupping for Quality can be found here:


The Top Ten Scoring Coffees

Aguadas Rainforest Group Colombia 89.00
Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union Ethiopia 86.79
El Diviso Colombia 86.46
COMICAOL Honduras 86.07
Santa Teresa El Salvador 85.71
Jumboor Estate, Tata Coffee Ltd India 85.50
Finca Kassandra Mexico 85.46
El Guayabito, Catalina, Los Naranjos, San Antonio Colombia 85.36
Finca el Zapote Guatemala 85.35
ADESC Guatemala 85.29

The highest scoring farms in each country were:

Colombia 89.00 Alegrias, El Diamante, Villahermosa
  86.46 El Diviso
  85.36 El Guayabito, Catalina, Los Naranjos, San Antonio
Costa Rica 84.92 Finca La Luisa
  84.71 Finca Miramonte
  84.68 Finca Santa Anita
Dominican Republic 83.68 SpiritMountain
El Salvador 85.71 Santa Teresa
  84.92 El Porvenir
  84.92 Las Colinas
Ethiopia 86.79 Wottonabultuma
  85.04 Moredocofe
Guatemala 85.35 Finca el Zapote
  85.29 ADESC
  85.20 Cafetal Magnolia
Honduras 86.07 COMICAOL
India 85.50 Jumboor Estate
  84.92 Dandubidara
  84.50 Sunticoppa Estate
Mexico 85.46 Finca Kassandra
  82.36 Fince Espana
Nicaragua 84.75 La Argentina
  84.61 Buenos Aires
  84.32 La Hammonia

The Rainforest Alliance Cupping for Quality takes place twice a year to accommodate for varying coffee harvest cycles around the world. Coffees from Brazil, East Africa, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea are evaluated each December. The results from the December 2010 session can be found here http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/agriculture/crops/coffee/cupping-quality

In 2010, more than 219,000 metric tons of coffee was produced on Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, an increase of 30 percent over 2009. Coffee from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms now represents an estimated 2.5 percent of the global market.

To learn more about Rainforest Alliance Certified™ coffee farms and how certification benefits coffee farming communities, visit www.sealyourcup.org or www.rainforest-alliance.org.

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