Nordic Barista Cup of Excellence

It’s a special treat to have Susie Spindler of the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) and the Cup of Excellence (CoE) here in Iceland. While the members of the five Nordic barista teams are an accomplished and educated group—many are barista champions and skilled cuppers—some may not have previous experience using the CoE cupping form developed by George Howell and used the world over to evaluate top coffees in producing countries. With some knowledge under their belts about Costa Rican regions, climate, and growing conditions, they listened as Susie explained the ACE and CoE beginnings, motivation and future development.

Susie explained what CoE is all about, and how it works to change the lives of coffee farms all over the world.

Susie explained what CoE is all about, and how it works to change the lives of coffee farms all over the world.

Susie gave some real world examples of how CoE can change the lives of farmers, explaining how the awards ceremony can work to raise the awareness of the government about infrastructures that may be necessary to improve conditions for farmers. She told one story about how it used to be in Honduras that, given a high government imposed export tax, farmers would smuggle their coffee through the jungle to Guatemala, where they would sell it without an export tax. But it would be sold as Guatemalan coffee, and the world remained unaware of how awesome Honduran coffee could be. Thanks to CoE’s presence in Honduras, that export tax has been lowered to a more reasonable rate.

After the lecture, we filed back into the larger activity room for a cupping exercise. Attendees lined up to get samples of four Costa Rican CoE coffees, which they were encouraged to score with provided CoE cupping forms.

Bronwen, left, and Alex, another awesome volunteer, serve coffee to attendees.

Bronwen, left, and Alex, another awesome volunteer, serve coffee to attendees.

Klaus, doing his best to make Casper proud...

Klaus, doing his best to make Casper proud...

Flori and Grant of Mercanta (plus Jens in the background!) enjoying their Costa Rican coffees.

Flori and Grant of Mercanta (plus Jens in the background!) enjoying their Costa Rican coffees.

Alex of Solberg & Hansen and Bjørg...

Alex of Solberg & Hansen and Bjørg...

Kjeti and Kristina from Stockfleths, and Tim (no introduction needed) taste the coffees.

Kjeti and Kristina from Stockfleths, and Tim (no introduction needed) taste the coffees.

Former member of Team Iceland, Kristin is a volunteer this year. Here she is, working hard.

Former member of Team Iceland, Kristin is a volunteer this year. Here she is, working hard.

So while the attendees were tasting the coffees, the five teams were put through a more rigorous competition: they had to cup six Costa Rican CoE coffees, use the CoE score sheets, and then submit them. They were given 50 minutes for this task. Their submitted sheets will be reviewed by the organizers, who will compare them to the actual scores these six coffees received from the international CoE jury. Whichever team is closest, wins! But we won’t know the winner of the day until dinner tonight… more to come!

Mattias from Team Sweden scrapes the grounds.

Mattias from Team Sweden scrapes the grounds.

Susie reviews the cupping form with the teams

Susie reviews the cupping form with the teams

Petra from Team Suomi fills out her form

Petra from Team Suomi fills out her form

Lucaz and Oda from Team Norway listen carefully

Lucasz and Oda from Team Norway listen carefully

And away they go to cup...

And away they go to cup...

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.