If you are a coffee lover, there is no better place to be than in Costa Rica. Ask any tico and they will tell you the same. If you ask which brand is the best, the ticos are never at a loss for words, and everyone has a favorite. Trying every brand and brew from every plantation in Costa Rica could take some time, luckily you don’t have to.
Every year in Costa Rica, The Alliance for Coffee Excellence in partnership with El Instituto del Café de Costa Rica (The Institute of Costa Rican Coffee), and Asociación de Cafés Finos (Association of Fine Coffees) holds the annual Cup of Excellence competition to determine who has that best grinds in the nation. This year the first qualifying round took place on April 30th, 12 national judges narrowed down the selection of those who would go on to compete in the international tasting. The international tasting took place last week, at the Centro de Investigaciones en Café (Center of Investigations in Coffee) in San Pedro de Barva, Heredia. The judging started on May 6th and ended on May 10th. 30 judges from the United States, Norway, France, and various other countries tried all of the qualifying cups of coffee, and a winner was declared.
Oldemar Arrieta Lobo, who owns a small family plantation, “Finca Fidel,” in Naranjo, Alajuela, alongside his wife and sons took the prize. Arrieta uses older equipment and traditional methods to grow, process, and dry his coffee beans. His staff consists of a total of eight people. All of his coffee is grown and processed locally in Naranjo, Alajuela.
The coffee is judged in three categories; acidity, volume, and smell, all of which factor in to the taste and overall quality of the coffee. Over 70 different coffees were sampled by the judges. In order to qualify for the international tasting each competitor must achieve a score of at least 85 out of a possible 100 in order to move on. In the final tasting, Arrieta scored a 90.75 just narrowly beating the second place winner, Didier Sánchez Godinez whose coffee comes from the La Candelilla plantation in San Lorenza de Tarrazú, scored a 90.08.
Arrieta received a plaque to commemorate his achievement, but more importantly he has earned the right to have his coffee sold at the international Alliance for Coffee Excellence auction. If you are a coffee connoisseur, you like to buy in bulk, and you have some cash to spare, you could purchase the best coffee in Costa Rica. Last years winner sold their coffee for $4,500 USD per quintal (46 kilos), that is $97.82 per kilo or $44.46 per pound. The Alliance for Coffee Excellence holds auctions for Cup of Excellence winners from Bolivia, Brazil, Burundi, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Rwanda. The auction will take place on June 19th. For more information and to participate in the auction go to www.allianceforcoffeeexcellence.org.
There will also be a national auction in Costa Rica hosted by Asociación de Cafés Finos de Costa Rica on May 28th in Rohrmoser. For more information and to participate in the national auction you can contact the Asosiación de Cafés Finos by phone at (506) 2220-0685.