Pictured: Thomas Kaliawa, owner and operator of Kailiawa Coffee Farm in Hawaii who had one of his coffees features as a 2011 Coffee of the Year.
As we look forward to ringing in a new year in a few days, we look back on 2011. Part of looking back is recognizing great events and accomplishments that happened in the past year. Right now you can't escape "The Best of Lists" in the media acknowledging everything from the best feuds of 2011 to the best news stories of the year. Well, coffee is no different and has its very own competition to recognize the best specialty coffees with the Coffees of the Year.
Each year the Roasters Guild, a trade guild of the Specialty Coffee Association of America, holds this prestigious event to recognize the best specialty coffees from around the world. This year the competition saw over 121 specialty coffee submissions from 17 different countries. Only 10 coffees gain the right to say they are among the " Coffees of the Year". So how does a coffee become a "Coffee a Year"? The coffees are vetted by Q- graders, SCAA certified cuppers and other industry cupping experts. These individuals evaluate the sensory characteristics of each coffee through cupping. Cupping is the process of evaluating coffee by swishing and swirling a soupspoon portion of coffee in their mouth and spitting it out without swallowing. This allows the cuppers to saturate their sensory nerves and be able to evaluate the different characteristics of the coffee such as taste, aroma, body, flavor, acidity and aftertaste. Coffees are graded on a 1 to 100 scale. In order to be eligible for the Coffees of the Year competition the coffee had to have a score of 84 or higher. After qualifying the coffees were vetted bi-annually by the experts. Only the top 10 coffees became the 2011 Coffees of the Year.
The 2011 Coffees of the Year were on display at the Specialty Coffee Association of America Exposition in Houston, Texas this past April. Attendees at this event had the chance to sample the 2011 Coffees of the Year and meet with the coffee producers who grew these exceptional coffee crops. This competition is a prestigious event for coffee producers around the world. While at the SCAA Exposition I had the privilege to talk with Thomas Kailiawa, owner and operator of Kaliawa Coffee Farm in Hawaii who had one of his coffees features as a 2011 Coffee of the Year. When I asked Mr. Kailiawa what it meant to him as a coffee producer to have one of his coffees featured as a coffee of the year he said, "It is really exciting. It helps our small community to get through these tough times and everybody wins."
To see a complete list of the 2011 Coffees of the Year click here!
Roasters Guild Websitehttp://roastersguild.org/?p=about&sub=awards