Recent News & Information

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Peru Steps Into the Limelight

Peru is arguably specialty coffee’s best-kept secret. Despite producing some of the planet’s most mouthwateringly delicious coffees, outside of a small subsection of the industry it rarely receives the recognition it deserves. That changed in September when, after nearly seven years of planning, Cup of Excellence arrived in Lima.



Certified coffee sells for US$90 in Brazil naturals Cup of Excellence

For the first time, a biodynamic coffee has won the top coveted spot in a Cup of Excellence (COE) competition.

Producer Henrique Sloper de Araújo of Fazenda Camocim sold his top-winning COE coffee for US$90.20 per pound (about $119.86) in the final auction of the 2017 season on 7 December.


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‘Raisin Process’ Coffee From Brazil Breaks Cup of Excellence Price Record

Going to Gabriel Alves Nunes’ Fazenda Bom Jardim in the Cerrado Mineiro region, the coffee surpassed the previous CoE-record-high coffee, which earned $124.50, earlier this year at the Honduras auction.

Producer Interview: Francisco Javier Montiel Valencia, 12th Place Finisher in the 2017 Mexico COE

I recently took the opportunity to interview Javier Montel Valencia, a coffee producer in Mexico whose coffee placed 12th in the 2017 Mexico Cup of Excellence (COE), where Jen Apodaca and Alex Mason participated as judges. Francisco’s winning lot was produced on a 6-acre farm located in the community of Huehuetecpan within the municipality of Cosautlán de Carvajal in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. Royal purchased the winning lot through the COE auction and it just arrived in Oakland.


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15 Year in the Making, Alliance for Coffee Excellence Launches Cup of Excellence Perú

Portland, Oregon USA (September 18th)- On September 14th the Alliance for Coffee Excellence kicked off its first ever Cup of Excellence in Lima, Peru. Founder, Susie Spindler recollects, “For over 15 years, it has been my dream that eventually Cup of Excellence could come to Perú and begin the process of discovering the qualities and the farmers that have long been hidden.”


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Cup of Excellence Holds First-Ever Peru Competition

Cup of Excellence is known for its competitions around the world celebrating farmer excellence and discovering beautiful coffees. These have taken place everywhere from Mexico and many Central and South American countries to African nations like Burundi and Rwanda.


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Cup of Excellence returns to Colombia

The 15th Colombian edition of Cup of Excellence was held in Ibagué, Tolima on 26 September.

The national jury approved 39 coffees for the international jury to analyse, with 29 of those progressing to the auction stage.



Lots of 90+ at First Colombia Cup of Excellence Since 2015

Six coffees at the recent Colombia Cup of Excellence coffee quality competition scored 90 or above, tying a record previously set at this year’s CoE competition in Mexico.

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Brazil Naturals with Big Scores Coming to Cup of Excellence Auctions

The panel of international jurors at the Brazil Naturals and Brazil Pulped Naturals Cup of Excellence quality competitions gave some remarkably high marks to coffees in both categories this month, with nine lots scoring 90 points or above.


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Cup Of Excellence Colombia Print Article

Burundi Cup of Excellence returns

After an absence in 2016, Burundi has returned to the Cup of Excellence program with winning lots auctioned on 18 October, achieving an average price of US$9.19 per pound.

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2017 Colombia Cup of Excellence Returns to Great Auction Success

2017 Colombia Cup of Excellence Returns to Great Auction Success

(Portland, Oregon November 10th) The last Cup of Excellence in Colombia was in 2015 and this year’s return in September not only revealed amazing coffees from this Southern regionally focused competition, but also provided strong results with $399,975 in total auction revenue and an average price for all 30 lots at an impressive $10.80 per pound; 

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Quality Shines at Peru’s First Cup of Excellence Competition

The first-ever Cup of Excellence quality competition in Peru has yielded remarkable results, with five lots receiving scores of 90 and above from an international jury representing 12 countries.


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September 2017 Newsletter

A Life in Coffee with Susie Spindler

Over my 20-plus years in the specialty coffee industry, there are certain people I consider our founding leaders—people who have helped shape the coffee industry of today. Susie is certainly one of those people, as well as one of my personal idols. She is relentless in a male-dominated world. She has never let anyone tell her how things are done. In short, Susie sets the rules.

We met at a cafe in Portland on a trendy shopping street near the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) offices. Instead of drinking coffee, we ate lunch and talked for several hours about the history of the coffee industry.

Read More Here

Coffee From Tarrazú, Costa Rica Awarded the “Cup of Excellence”

During the “Cup of Excellence” contest which took place this week in the Bouganvillea Hotel in Heredia, coffee tasters from nine countries chose coffee from Don Antonio farm part of the Group Los Grande de Copey, from the Tarrazú region, as the best in Costa Rica.

Experienced coffee tasters from Japan, South Korea, Australia, Bulgaria, China, Germany, U.S.A., Colombia and Costa Rica tasted coffee from different companies and regions in the event that took place May 23 to the 26.

Read More Here

Honey-Process Geisha Earns $80.60/lb at Costa Rica Cup of Excellence

The latest in a remarkable run of record-high prices paid in the Cup of Excellence competition auction for microlots of green coffee, buyers at the 2017 Costa Rica CoE spent a record high average price among all winning lots of $17.76 USD per pound, with a top coffee earning $80.60 per pound.


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El Paraxaj vende café a precio récord


La calidad del café de la finca El Paraxaj, ubicada en Acatenango, Chimaltenango, fue premiada ayer en la subasta electrónica Cup of Excellence, al vender cada una de las 330.69 libras de la variedad Pacamara a US $58 (Q425.14), que en conjunto sumaron US $19 mil 180 (Q140 mil 589).Read more >

Tamper Tantrum Podcast with our Executive Director Darrin Daniel

Recorded onsite at this year’s Cup Of Excellence in Burundi, they use Darrin’s career story to talk through the pros and cons of working with large coffee corporations, share Duane Sorenson stories, and ponder the importance of communication.

They also talk about the tumultuous changes to ACE and the COE program which spurred quite a lot of intense online discussion – in which, we’ll be honest, Steve was a fairly vocal participant – and what changes have been made as a result of learned lessons as they look towards the future.

Listen Here 


New rust-resistant coffee variety scores 90 points in Nicaragua Cup of Excellence competition

A coffee variety called Centroamericano, part of a new class of F1 hybrid varieties, has proven its quality potential by earning a score of 90 out of 100 points in the world’s leading competition and award for high quality coffees, the Cup of Excellence®, in Nicaragua.


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Nicaragua’s return to COE attracts record average price

The Nicaraguan Cup of Excellence (COE) winning lots selected in early April sold on 1 June for a record average price of US$10.89 per pound.

All 25 winning lots sold at the online auction for more than US$7.00 per pound, with the first-place coffee from El Esfuerzo selling for close to US$40.00 per pound.


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The Perfect Coffee Sourcing Story

The second edition of the Brazil Late Harvest Cup of Excellence (COE) competition is one of great importance, due to the fact that it is the first competition that revolves only around natural processed coffees. 

See more here

Evalúan jurado para la Taza de Excelencia 2017

El país ha participado en todas las competencias desde 2003 con excepción de 2016. El certamen permite mejores precios de venta.

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El Salvador and Nicaragua COE competitions return with 90+ results

Jorge Raul Rivera of Santa Rosa is the winner of the 2017 El Salvador Cup of Excellence competition (COE), which took place from 4 to 7 April in San Salvador.

This is the first COE competition that has been held in the country since the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) withdrew the competition temporarily in 2015.

See more here

Darrin Daniel to Assume Executive Director Role at Alliance for Coffee Excellence, Inc

Portland, Oregon USA (January 8, 2017), During the recent meeting held in Portland, Oregon the Board of Directors of The Alliance For Coffee Excellence(ACE) voted unanimously to give Darrin Daniel its top management role.  “The ACE Board is ecstatic to find a professional of Darrin’s caliber with his passion for coffee willing to take on the challenges and opportunities always facing the Cup of Excellence® program,” explained Geoff Watts, Chairman of the Board.  


Darrin replaces the interim director and founder of the organization, Susie Spindler who returned in mid 2016 at the request of the ACE Board.  “I am thrilled that Darrin has accepted this position and believe that the organization’s future is secure in his capable hands.” indicated Spindler. “Darrin has years of green coffee experience at Stumptown and most recently at Allegro. He brings an incredible understanding and enthusiasm for coffee farmers, high quality coffee and the global specialty coffee sector. All three are at the center of the work of Cup of Excellence, ACE’s premier program,” continued Spindler, who will remain as an advisor.


Daniel, who has supported the Cup of Excellence program both as a judge and a buyer is excited to take the helm.  “It is with great honor that I assume the role of Executive Director for the Alliance for Coffee Excellence. Since my first experience as an International Judge in Honduras in 2005, Cup of Excellence has had a special place in my heart and coffee career. I am overjoyed to be able to lead and guide this wonderful organization’s future as we move towards expanding the original 1999 vision.”


About Alliance for Coffee Excellence & Cup of Excellence®

Alliance for Coffee Excellence is a non-profit global membership organization dedicated to advancing excellence in coffee. Cup of Excellence, its premier program has positively affected thousands of farmers with its unmatched focus on and reward for quality and transparency. In 2017 Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Rwanda, Burundi, Colombia and Brazil plan to hold the Cup of Excellence programs. In addition, ACE also has plans for a pilot program in Peru.




Darrin Daniel

Alliance for Coffee Excellence



Darrin Daniel Appointed Executive Director of Cup of Excellence

Darrin Daniel, formerly of Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Allegro Coffee, has just been named the Executive Director of the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE), the organization that runs the Cup of Excellence (CoE) competition and auction.

“Darrin’s a great choice. He has decades of green coffee experience, has bought coffee and worked with farmers around the globe and has a unique understanding of the challenges that both farmers and roasters face when focusing on premium coffees,” said Susie Spindler, co-founder and interim director for ACE prior to Darrin’s appointment. “He happens to be completely connected in the industry having built hundreds if not thousands of relationships and friendships over the years. But most important for me is that he truly cares and is honestly passionate about Cup of Excellence,” she shares.

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Darrin Daniel Named Executive Director of ACE/Cup of Excellence

The Alliance for Coffee Excellence, the nonprofit organization that runs the Cup of Excellence competition and auction program, has announced the appointment of longtime green coffee expert Darrin Daniel as executive director.

Daniel will take over the position from CoE co-founder Susie Spindler, who came out of retirement to lead the organization on an interim basis early last year following the resignation of Debbie Hill.

A longtime CoE judge, Daniel has spent years in green coffee sourcing and quality control with Allegro Coffee, while leading green buying for Stumptown Coffee Roasters in 2012-13. Read more >

ACE's Winter Newsletter 2016

Read about ACE's trip to SCAJ and Cup of Excellence's Brazil Pulped Naturals and Naturals auction. 

ASCA to host Brazil COE Cuppings around Australia

The Australian Specialty Coffee Association (ASCA) has announced it will host a series of special cuppings of the current Cup of Excellence (COE) winners from the Brazil Natural and Pulp Natural competitions across Australia from 30 November to 17 December. 

The coffees are pre-auction samples. ASCA is inviting interested participants to attend the cuppings and engage with other people to create buying groups, or with importers to find out what coffee they are bidding on. Read more >

Will Young of Campos Coffee appointed Chairman of ACE in 2017

The Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) has appointed Will Young of Campos Coffee the new Vice Chair of the ACE Board. 

The announcement, coinciding with the start of Brazil’s natural and pulped natural Cup of Excellence (COE) program, is the result of successful board nominations.

Will’s role will lead into the Chairman position in June 2017, taking over from Geoff Watts of Intelligentsia.

Geoff will finish his tenure as current Chair and the move on to the position of Post Chair position for two years to give the continuity necessary to steer the COE program. Read more>

Fall Newsletter


2017 Spring Newsletter

Read about ACE's newly elected Board Members, the overwhelming success of the 2016 Central America COE auctions, COE Cupper Camp, the Burundi Cupper Exchange and more.


Brazil COE in 2015 Article

Click here to read an article written in simplified Chinese on the COE Brazil in 2015.

COE Cupper Camp Seoul Article


Click here to read an article written in Korean on the 2016 COE Cupper Camp hosted in Seoul.

Kalibús la Sierra wins Guatemalan Cup of Excellence

The Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) has announced the Kalibús la Sierra farm the 2016 Cup of Excellence (COE) Guatemalan winner.

The winning lot from Kalibús la Sierra in the Sierra de las Minas region of Guatemala scored 92.09 in the international cupping, and secured a price of US$42.10 per pound.

With two lots up for grabs on 1 July, farmer Castillo Cerezo took home more than US$75,000 (around $100,000) for his beans.

Dabov Specialty Coffee in Bulgaria and CKcorporations for Lusso Coffee in Korea were the highest bidders for the Kalibus La Sierra coffee. Read More >

Costa Rica's Cup of Excellence has record-breaking auction 

21 June 2016

Francisco Mena is a very happy man. On Tuesday, Mena’s top scoring coffee in the 2016 Cup of Excellence competition set a new record at auction: $59 per pound. That’s the highest price paid per pound at auction since Costa Rica started holding the competition in 2007.

The 728-pound lot was bought by Takamura Coffee Roasters of Osaka, Japan for a total of $42,952. Read More >

15 June 2016
LISTEN HERE to Susie Spindler on XRAY radio talking about Cup of Excellence.


Costa Rica's best coffee was grown by a newbie farmer

14 June 2016

LOURDES DE CIRRÍ, Alajuela — It looked like rain when Francisco Mena got into his truck with one of his two daughters, 12-year-old Alessia, to go look for a coffee roaster from the U.S. and his family who were visiting Finca Sumava.

The sudden rush of clouds brought a chill to the coffee farm, which is draped over the steep hills of Lourdes de Cirrí, Naranjo, some 50 kilometers northwest of San José. Even as the clouds rolled in, Poás Volcano was still visible in the distance. Read more >


Perfect Daily Grind reports on "How Specialty Coffee in Honduras Rocketed to the Top" 

23 November 2015

How would you feel if your family was responsible for changing the entire face of your country’s specialty coffee? Proud? Excited?.  Read Here >

Join our Honduras COE Cupper Camp: Sign up! 



Bahia farmer wins Brazil Pulped Naturals 2015 Cup of Excellence

BeanScene Magazine | October 2015

BeanScene takes an inside look at the competition that awarded 22 farms and celebrated the best of Brazilian specialty coffee.
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Quantifying the Impact of the Cup of Excellence

Roast Magazine | September/October 2015

After 15 years and more than 100 contests, the Cup of Excellence (COE) specialty coffee competition has had a sweeping impact that reaches beyond the producer participants to fuel economic growth and develop the specialty coffee industry in host countries. A recent study by TechnoServe, a global nonprofit that creates business solutions to address poverty, surveyed the impact COE has had on two partner countries—Brazil and Honduras. The study found that COE has created an immense value for both countries: $137 million in Brazil and $25 million in Honduras in total benefits, including benefits related to auction sales, increased direct trade and boosted specialty coffee trade.

Download the Roast Magazine article:  English  |  Espanõl  |  한국어
Download the TechnoServe Report here.

Video: What's special about Rwandan coffee?

CNN | July 2015

CNN asks, "What's special about Rwandan coffee?"  See the video here.

Wir brauchen Farmer, die wissen, was sie tun

ESPRESS | 2015

ACE Members, Elisabeth and Willy, are featured in the German magazine, ESPRESS.  They talk about coffee, Brazil, and COE.  Download PDF here.

How the Cup of Excellence Determines the World's Best Coffees | 22 October 2014

Silvio Leite, a tall Brazilian gentleman with a long smile and cherubic cheeks, asked a group of judges circling him how many of them scored above 90 on coffee number three. Two people, a deep-voiced Pittsburgh native named Bill Swoope, who owns a chain of shops called The Coffee Tree, and a cheerful but stocky Japanese man named Kentaro Maruyama with a string of shops in Tokyo raised their hands... Read More >


Japanese Company Buys Best Costa Rican Coffee at $5,900 Per Quintal


SAN JOSE - A quintal (46 kilograms) of high-quality Costa Rican coffee was purchased Wednesday by a Japanese company at $5,900 in the Cup of Excellence's online auction, the event organizer reported.

The price sets a new record high in this type of auction, according to the Coffee Institute of Costa Rica (Icafe).

The Japanese company Wataru bought 11 bags of coffee grown in the Sumava farm, located in the town of Cirri de Naranjo, in the province of Alajuela, in the western valley of Costa Rica, according to Icafe.

The coffee from Sumava farm was chosen by local and international tasters to be the best coffee in the country among the 21 lots that participated in the Cup of Excellence competition held today.

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Rwandan Research Team to Launch $20,000 ‘Potato Taste Defect’ Study

Daily Coffee News | 24 June 2014

A group of people fighting a huge problem in coffeelands of the Great Lakes Region of Africa — potato taste defect — is banking on one small team’s research on antestia bug (antestiopsis orbitalis) mitigation. Read more >

Experts call for more investment in research to boost coffee quality

The New Times | 18 March 14

More investment in scientific research, innovations and market outlets is needed if the country’s coffee industry is to thrive amid tight market competition, coffee experts have said. Read more >

Press Releases

New Records Set for Brazil Naturals Cup of Excellence®

29 January 2015

The first place winning coffee of the recent Brazil Naturals Cup of Excellence (COE) competition set a new record high in a Naturals COE competition with a 95.18 score. Grown on a five hectare farm located in Cristina, Mantiqueria de Minas, by brothers Antônio and Sebastian Marcio da Silva, this coffee – prized for its tropical fruit flavors and champagne acidity – validated Brazil’s innovations in quality in the competition’s fourth contest for Brazil’s best Natural Processed coffee.  Read more >

Brazil’s Piatã Farmers Sweep Top Awards at 100th Cup of Excellence® Competition

24 November 2014

Farmers from the Piatã producing region of Brazil swept the top five places at the milestone 100th Cup of Excellence competition held at the University of Viçosa last week.  Read more >

Farmers Thrilled as Nicaragua Cup of Excellence® Auction Results Break Record

2 Jun 2014

Thrilled farmers watched as average prices for their award winning coffees soared to a record high during the 2014 Nicaragua Cup of Excellence® auction. Photos of the farmers watching the auction in Ocotal sent prices even higher through social media shares and retweets.  Read more >

Cup of Excellence® Returns $40 Million in Proceeds to Farmers, Producing Countries

31 March 2014

Cup of Excellence® total auction proceeds surpassed the $40 million dollar mark in its 90th auction, Brazil Late Harvest 2014. The Cup of Excellence program, which began in 1999, has consistently rewarded farmers for the exemplary quality coffees they produce despite ebbs and flows in the volatile coffee market over the last 15 years. Read more >

Cup of Excellence® Program Closes out 2013 with Successful Brazil Auction

4 December 2013

Brazil Early Harvest Cup of Excellence® online auction rounded out the 2013 competition year raising $516,000 as a reward for Brazil’s quality coffees, an increase of over 30% from the prior year. An average price of $6.53 per pound and a top price of $23.10 per pound proves that the demand for very sweet, high-bodied Brazil coffees remains strong.  Read more >

Honduras Kicks Off Central America Cup of Excellence® Coffee Auctions

Honduras Kicks Off Central America Cup of Excellence® Coffee Auctions

17 June 2013

Not certain what prices to expect, 22 farmers gathered at the Instituto Hondureño del Café quality lab in San Pedro Sula on Thursday to watch the annual online auction for their winning Cup of Excellence® coffees.  Cheers replaced worries as the average price per pound hit a Honduras record of $9.92/lb by the auction close.  Read more >