The Best of the Pearl Competition: Uganda’s Finest Coffees Get Ready for the Online Auction
Coffee competitions and auctions held over the years in East African countries often revolved around competition juries to which international judges would fly in for the quality evaluation and Lot selection. But during a pandemic, such as the one we are living in, how can an international jury come together? To promote Uganda’s finest coffees and ensure their visibility in the international market, the Uganda Coffee Federation (UCF) in partnership with Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) and the International Trade Centre under MARKUP, decided to think outside the box and organise a competition judged by a national jury and a remote international jury. The competition, named Best of the Pearl, started in February 2021 and will culminate with an online auction for the best Ugandan specialty coffees on 19th May 2021. The online auction is run with the technical support of Sensible Development.
Who said that international coffee cupping juries must gather in person? To overcome the challenges posed by continuing travel restrictions, after a first national cupping round, at the end of April 2021, an international jury gathered via Zoom. Yes, Zoom. 16 international Q Graders (accredited coffee cuppers), based in 11 different countries, gathered online and assessed the 13 preselected coffees ahead of the upcoming online auction. The international jurors shortlisted the final line-up of coffees, and ranked them based on their quality, before they will be auctioned to international buyers.
The auction organisers shared that cupping during a pandemic comes with its challenges, as coffee samples had to be shipped all over the world, which led to some delays. Eventually though all coffees were evaluated and the jury agreed on a final ranking of the coffees.
And now, let us look at the results of the international round of the cupping competition! The top three coffees in each category – naturals, washed and honeys –were coffees from small and medium sized enterprises, all of which have been beneficiaries of ITC’s activities under MARKUP. You can see the full results here.
Naturals - Kawacom Sipi Falls Anaerobic Natural, N1 – 85.58
Washed - Mountain Harvest Coffee - W.KYR.NO37, W5 – 85.54
Honeys - Masha Coffee, H3 – 84.42
The coffees impressed the jurors – who agreed that those were the true pearls of Uganda. One of the jurors from Bulgaria, Mr. Jordan Dabov, shared “The coffees were extremely clean and sweet! Amazing and a privilege to have tasted such coffees from Uganda” .
Great results are awaiting Ugandan coffee producers as they get ready for the Auction on May 11!