Statement from our Executive Director
(March 12th, 2020 Portland, Oregon) – The Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE), who owns and operates the Cup of Excellence competition and auction in over 10 countries would like to announce our commitment to all of the coffee producers who participate in our events around the world. We are currently working on contingency plans to ensure that we will properly vet all entries, support all of our in-country partners and assure our membership that we will present coffees for all of the 2020 auctions. It is imperative that we back our producers during the COVID-19 virus outbreak. In addition to our programming of coffee competitions, we conduct trainings and educational courses around the world. These classes will be rescheduled until we have a clearer picture on travel bans and other considerations of public gatherings.
We also will ensure that the health of all of our staff, consultants, in-country stakeholders is tantamount to our mission. As this situation remains fluid and travel restrictions may hinder our ability to hold ceremonies or sensory sessions, we are prepared to employ a host of different measures that will allow ACE and our in-country partners to continue the process of evaluation and discovery of the highest quality coffees around the world. Though we are all facing a lot of unknowns, please know we are working hard to assure the continuity of the program as best as we can. Over the past 20 years, we have faced many challenges and our organization remains to be committed to farmers and will work through this pandemic. We will be sending out updates and sharing resource information regarding all aspects of our programming so please keep checking our website and social media feeds.
The CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) are continually updating their sites with the latest information about travel warnings, new outbreaks, and disease developments.
During this ongoing crisis, our mission to support farmers, roasters, and the coffee industry as a whole is more vital than ever. Please consider making a donation to ACE at this time to help us mitigate the crisis’ effects on our community.
Alliance for Coffee Excellence
What does this mean for the competitions?
Are we continuing with competitions?
I’m sorry to be sharing the unfortunate news that we will not be holding a traditional international jury for COE Ethiopia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, or Mexico. At the moment our intention is to complete the vetting process in a modified way and still hold the COE and NW Auctions. For the moment, we are still planning on traditional COE Protocols for Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, and Indonesia.
Farmers can’t postpone or cancel their harvest, and we intend to continue with the vetting process in order to continue our mission for the farmers.
Will you use the same standards and methods?
Things are changing by the day, but we plan to continue collecting samples and lots and doing the preselection and national jury stage of the competition with a modified cupping method that will not allow cross contamination. ACE has been making plans with our head judges and our partner organizations in order to make sure any gathering that might be held by the national jury is safe.
And for the top 40 coffees of the international jury stage, we plan to send those coffees to COE longtime members around the world for those experienced judges and ACE to taste through those coffees. The modified version of how we vetted coffees will be transparently shared with everyone once we complete the process.
How will you complete the competitions safely?
We are preparing plans for various circumstances to ensure the safety of our global coffee family. We’ll continue to take actions necessary to help protect the community, which includes incorporating modified cupping procedures and protocols in order to take the safety precautions necessary to avoid cross contamination. All activities for COE will be set up in a way that allows for social distancing and good hygiene.
In terms of cupping, our team and head judges have devised a new cupping system, called Individual Set Cupping, that eliminates any cross-contamination between judges. You can learn more about the cupping format and our safety protocols with the resources below.
Cup of Excellence Cleanliness Protocol
- Appendix 1. Handwashing Guidelines
- Appendix 2. Protocols for Individual Set Cupping Method
- Appendix 3. Mitigation Strategies for Viral Transmission
- Appendix 4. Proper Glove Techniques
- Appendix 5. Face Mask Application
- Appendix 6. Virus Deactivation Utilizing Boiling Water
- Appendix 7. Food Safety
What can I do to help?
We find ourselves in uncharted waters and we appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate this complicated time. Above all we hope you, your families and coworkers remain safe and healthy. Please help us in realizing ACE’s mission and bid in the auctions. Now, more than ever, every bid counts. The more bidders in the auction, the more money raised for producers who are in turn empowered to continue pushing the envelope in specialty coffee innovation.
For more information on how we’re adjusting the competition this year, here is a statement from Erin Wang, the Senior Manager of Cup of Excellence.