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2022 Best Cup Colombia-By Kalina

The 2022 Best Cup took place in Popayán, Colombia, and was hosted by two amazing companies, Banexport and Cafe Imports. The Best Cup is a competition between local producers in Colombia to compete and be ranked. More than 1,000 microlots were submitted in this year's competition hoping to be placed in the top thirty. After Banexport and Cafe Imports pick the top thirty finalists it was our job to grade and ranked them in the top fifteen. After the top fifteen are placed they will be up for sale and the end of the week during the auction.

On the first day we arrived in Popayán we were greeted by the team of Banexport and Cafe Imports. Of course, both teams insisted on riding in style and rented a Chiva Bus as our only transportation for the week. Shortly we were taken to the Hotel Dann Monasterio and given a sneak peek of the room we would be cupping in for the week. This hotel was a 16th-century Monastery that was upscaled and turned into a hotel and event center. As we settled into our new home for the week we prepared ourselves to meet the rest of the Banexport team and the other coffee/roasting companies. Little did we know we were preparing ourselves to meet our new lifelong friends.

On the second day, the team was up bright and early to set out to a farm located right outside of Popayan. We were greeted with open arms as the family prepared breakfast for the whole group. We were served sweet cake, fruit, empanadas, and of course their very own coffee. The farm was named by her late Father as he believed this was a gift from Jesus. The current farmer, Hilario, explained the intense rain over the past three years has made his job very difficult as the grass and vegetation around the coffee plants are growing faster and fuller. This can affect the growth of the coffee plant as the nutrients in the ground are being shared. However, this still encourages Hilario to only pick ripe and red cherries from the plants. Their mission no matter the difficulties is to create high-quality specialty coffee in the most responsible way possible.

Later in the day, the Cafe Imports team went over a brief collaboration cupping in order to make sure all the people grading the cupping were on the same page.

On the third day, we started grading all thirty cups of coffee that were in the running for the top fifteen. Each person would be given ten sets of two cups of coffee to taste and grade. After the grading, each member gathered in a room to debrief. We did this process each morning for the next few days until we made our decision and created the list of the top fifteen.

Later in the afternoon on the third day, we visit a very special farmer, Andres. Andres was the winner of Best Cup back in 2019 and let me tell you it completely changed his life. The farmer explained to us he used his winnings on new machinery to further expand his farm. Andres went on and on about the appreciation he had for this competition and for all of us. As he showed us his beautiful farm you could see the happiness and pride he had to be able to share his home and farm with people who appreciated what he loved. After the tour of the farm, his family surprised us with his number one coffee and empanadas. Andres and his family were so appreciative and grateful to share their hard work and joy will all of us.

The fourth day we had a special treat as we had the opportunity to visit Banexport’s farm located in Cauca. This farm was at the top of many mountains and you could see all of Popayán. We were greeted by Jairo’s whole team of farmers, pickers, and microbiologists. They welcomed us with fruit, empanadas, sweets, and plenty of different drinks. Even though it was down pouring that did not stop us from touring the most beautiful farm I have ever seen.

On the fifth and final day of cupping the group set out to tour the dry mill of Banexport located in the middle of Popayan. Jairo and his brother, Julian, explained to us the different stages of importing and exporting green coffee beans. He introduced us to his team and gave everyone an idea of a typical day of working at Banexports Dry Mill.

The last day was the best day of all. This day was filled with joy, laughter, success, and celebration. Driving towards the auction we could hear the music and laughter coming from the arena. These next few moments are very life-changing for the producers as they are finally told their coffee was good enough to be ranked in the top fifteen. My partner Calli and I were so nervous and excited to bid on these wonderful coffees and bring them back for everyone to try.

Waterbean Coffee ended up bidding on the numbers eight, two, and one of the ranked coffees. We purchased the eighth-ranked coffee for $6.50 per pound. The farmer was Nicolas Leyton Fesco with a coffee variety of Papayo. The second-ranked coffee we purchased was for $11.50 per pound. The farmer was Jeferson Andres Bolandos with a coffee variety of Castillo with his farm located in Cauca. Jeferson explained that he was the happiest he has ever been. This last purchase we made truly touched my heart. Mirta Eugenia Grijalba Moncayo was the winner of the 2022 Best Cup. She is the first female to be ranked as the number one coffee in Colombia. Waterbean purchased her coffee for $27.50 per pound. The amount of joy and appreciation Mirta had for our purchase was unbelievable. Everyone at the auction was so insanely proud of the moment we all just shared. This is a moment in my life that I will never forget.

After the auction, we danced and celebrated the success that happen earlier in the day. We later said our goodbyes and packed to go home. The 2022 Colombia Best Cup was a week full of friendship, new experiences, education, and joy. I am truly grateful for such a wonderful experience and can’t wait for everyone to try the number one ranked coffee in Colombia.



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