Nica Nica Nica

It’s really nice to be back in Nicaragua — what a warm, welcoming country. Today was Day 1 of the —get this— 50th Cup of Excellence competition. It’s a big deal competition with an all-star jury on deck. Today was calibration, which was super interesting for me — this is the first CoE I have attended, and while I’ve read and talked about it lots over the years, seeing it in person is something else.

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Jurors gather after breakfast to begin calibration.
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Geoff Watts hangin in the hotel lobby.
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George Howell, aka CoE Padre, taking a whiff of his first cup. He told me he calls this part of the process “getting acquainted.”
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Two fun guys, and great cuppers: Salvador Sans, Spain (left), and Gerard Meauxsoone, France.
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Dick de Kock, the Netherlands (left), with the amazing, wonderful head judge, Silvio Leite, Brazil
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The women! And we are so much better than the movie of the same name. From left, yours truly; Yun Son Lee of Korea; Anita Le Roy of the UK; Flori Marin of the UK; Yuko Itoi of Japan; crap, crap, crap, can’t remember these two women’s names, I’m sorry!; and Rouki Delrue, my old pal from Guatemala by way of Belgium.
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Silvio tallies our scores from the 8 coffees we cupped for calibration to see if we’re on the same page. Um, we’re not. But hey, that’s what calibration’s for, right?
Then we had a break, a thunderstorm, and I got to have an awesome conversation with George about the organization. At four, we gathered outside the hotel to wait for the hired bus to drive us to meet the Mayor of Esteli. But the bus wasn’t prepared for the thunderstorm either — it got stuck in the mud. So we waited.
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Cool little tricked out scooter, huh? But the bus did finally arrive.
After a brief and very nice meeting at the center for tourism in Esteli, we went to my now favorite steak house in Esteli (I can say that because Rouki and Julio and I ate there on Sunday night, too).

CoE producers joined us for dinner, which was really nice.
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These guys are the sons of a producer, and they are proudly carrying on the family business.
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A table full of producers, including a six-time winner.
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Flor de Caña, steak and awesome company — how can you go wrong?
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Back in my room, the remains of my day. Nighty night!

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.