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The Cup of Excellence is the world's most prestigious coffee quality competition. We purchased not one, not two, but three winning lots from this year's Colombia CoE auction. Two of them are Pink Bourbon varietal lots. Our quality team calls the one from Finca La Miel "a monster coffee," and it placed 15th. This one, from the El Chaferote farm of Luis Gerardo Bravo Ordóñez, was good enough for third place. It tastes to us like tangerine, pineapple, and black cherry.
  • SKU Colombia CoE #3 Bourbon
  • Country Colombia
  • Region within Country San Agustín, Huila
  • Elevation 1600 m.a.s.l.
  • Farm Finca El Chaferote
  • Farmer / Producer Name Luis Gerardo Bravo Ordóñez
  • Buyer Geoff Watts
  • Cultivar Pink Bourbon
  • In Season Yes
  • Direct Trade No
  • Single Origin Yes
  • USDA organic No
Single Origin 1
In Season 1
CitrusStone FruitTropical

Colombia CoE #3 Bourbon

The Olympics of Coffee

The Cup of Excellence, or “CoE,” is the coffee industry’s most prestigious and professional quality competition. Since its first contest in 1999, it has established itself as the gold standard for coffee quality events and developed an international reputation for its transparency and transformative impact. There is no other coffee competition in the world that comes close to the rigor and discipline of a CoE. Every coffee goes through a minimum of five separate rounds to reach the final. In the course of a competition more than one hundred cups get tested. It is, by several orders of magnitude, the most thoroughly vetted coffee you will every encounter. Even a single defect can cause a lot to be eliminated from the competition, and more than three dozen individual tasters from different countries need to agree on a coffee’s extreme quality for it to make it through to the end of the competition. From up to 800 entries or more, only 20-30 coffee make it to the auction. It is extremely hard to win a CoE.

The Alliance

The CoE competition is operated by a non-profit organization called The Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE), which was created as a vehicle to catalyze positive change in the coffee industry. Since its inception, its work has always been rooted in the notion that quality is fundamental to creating value for growers. The ACE mission — “discover and reward exceptional quality coffee farmers” — has guided its evolution over the past 20 years. In that time, it has helped thousands of individual farmers enter the specialty market and establish lasting relationships. Along the way, it has fostered an international community of quality-focused coffee roasters who help support the mission.

The impact ACE has had on the specialty coffee industry is immense. By some estimates, it contributed hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenue to coffee farmers in Latin America alone over the span of a decade. But arguably the more powerful and lasting result of its work has been to change the conversations in the industry about both the value of quality and its provenance.

Prior to the establishment of the CoE, the global specialty marketplace relied largely on assumption when considering what a pound of incredible tasting coffee was worth, following obsolete tradition when seeking to locate the best qualities in each producing country. The fact that some regions — like Antigua in Guatemala or Matagalpa in Nicaragua — were consistently achieving higher premiums for their coffees was a result of historical circumstance and colonial-era consolidation of privilege rather than any real intrinsic quality advantage. CoE provided the industry’s first truly blind and equal-opportunity platform for coffees to compete on their merits rather than reputations, and in doing so was able to lift entire regions out of the shadows and onto center stage.

Thanks in part to the work of ACE places like Dipilto in Nicaragua, Huila in Colombia, and Huehuetenango in Guatemala have become known worldwide as hotspots for quality and go-to sources for buyers looking for extraordinary coffees.

To read an independent assessment of the impact of COE, click HERE.

La Pantera Rosa

The color of the year appears to be pink. If you were fortunate enough to taste our previous release, a gem of a coffee from a farm called La Miel that took 15th place in this year’s Colombia CoE, you know what I’m talking about. The legend of the Pink Bourbon is growing at a furious clip, and word of its quality potential is spreading quickly throughout coffee farming communities in Southern Colombia.

It should probably not come as a surprise then that the third-place winner in this year’s contest (and one of the most exciting coffees we’ve tasted this year) is yet another demonstration of this variety’s dramatic capability. What is surprising is that it came from a relatively low elevation as compared with some of the other winners.

El Chaferote is located at 1600 meters above sea level, tucked behind a small grove of forest, peering down over the edge of a cliff that faces the raging Magdalena river. It is an enchanting farm with a character I haven’t often encountered in Colombia. To get there requires commitment: it is located some 500 meters down a small winding footpath that can get quite muddy and slippery.

Luis Gerardo Bravo Ordoñez lives there with his extended family and cultivates not just coffee but also fruits, berries, beans, tomatoes, and other vegetables, both for his own consumption and for additional income. He’s one of the most immediately charming farmers I’ve met in years, with a charisma and genuine warmth that is evident on first encounter.

During my most recent visit to our smallholder sourcing project in San Agustín, \we spent an afternoon together. By the time I left, I was already convinced that I’d do all I could to ensure we have the opportunity to work together for years to some. The connection between human character and quality of one’s work is real. The best coffees often come from people who care — about the people around them, the environment they live in, and the things they produce. This is not the first time he’s won a prize for his quality, and surely won’t be the last. When you drink this mighty elixir, bursting with life and tropical fruit notes, remember the name: Luis Gerardo Ordonéz of El Chaferote has created a priceless diamond of a coffee.

Espresso

Espresso

All home and commercial espresso machines.

Turkish Grind

Turkish Grind

If you need a little bit coarser grind for your espresso machine or utilize this favorite preparation in eastern Europe.

Stovetop Espresso

Stovetop Espresso

Moka pots and stovetop espresso kettles need a very fine grind.

Cone Filter - Paper

Cone Filter - Paper

Most automatic and electric brewers utilize this grind setting.

Cone Filter - Gold

Cone Filter - Gold

Automatic brewers with reusable mesh filters, or a Kone manual brewing insert.

Universal

Universal

If you're buying for a friend, or are just not sure - this is a good grind for most drip brewers.

Technivorm

Technivorm

We found this excellent automatic brewer needed a bit coarser grind than other cone filter brewers.

Vacuum Brewer

Vacuum Brewer

For those with an electric or flame-heated vacuum brewer.

Flat Bottom - Paper

Flat Bottom - Paper

Any basket-style brewer, including automatic and Kalita wave manual brewing.

Flat Bottom - Gold

Flat Bottom - Gold

For automatic brewers with basket-style reusable filters.

French Press

Hario Dripper

Manual pourover cone brewing is a simple, no frills way of brewing.

Grind Type

French Press

A classic of immersion brewing. Select this grind for perfect classical preparation.

Chemex

Chemex

The iconic Chemex, this grind provides a perfectly paired offering for the special filters made for this brewer.

Percolator

Percolator

Our coarsest grind, this also provides a good pre-ground solution for cold brew at home.

Whole Bean

Whole Bean

For those with a grinder at home, we love freshly ground coffee! We prefer burr grinders for a more even brew.