2022 Best Cup Colombia-By Calli
I would like to start off this blog by thanking my wonderful boss Tony Vo who sent my colleague Kalina and I on this amazing trip to represent Waterbean Coffee. I would also like to thank BanExports for being the most amazing hosts while we were there and Café Imports for organizing the trip for Waterbean and other roasters around the United States to enjoy Best cup 2022. 09/18/2022 I flew into Bogotá, Colombia where we stayed a single night which led us to Popayán, Colombia the next day. The moment we stepped foot into Popayán we were immediately greeted with so much love and kindness, I had never felt so instantly connected with anyone in my life so easily but it made sense because we were all there for one thing… the love of coffee and to represent the businesses we are associated with. We got picked up on a bus that they call “A Chiva Bus” which transferred us around the entire time we were in Popayán. I had never been so excited to ride on a bus every day in my entire life but the Chiva had so much character to it, it was just different.
Popayán is filled with beautiful white architecture, everywhere you looked it was a beautiful white building where they had little shops all squished together along with pop up tents or stands to sell fruit from farms, handmade goods and jewelry, and homemade food. I feel like Popayán categorizes their shops by which retail business they are. If there was a shoe store the entire block would be a shoe store, if it was a hardware store the entire block was filled with different hardware stores. It was amazing, if you knew you needed shoes you could just go to the one shoe store and you would run into 25 more along the same block. I wish shopping was that easy and convenient in America.
This year there were over 1,000 microlots submitted for the 2022 Best Cup to be cupped, scored and auctioned on. During our time there we visited 3 different farms, including Andres Roldán of Finca La Parcelita who is a former winner of Best Cup. Every farm we stepped foot on, we were treated like family and not to mention how every farm we visited was more beautiful than words could describe. Not only did we see several different varieties of coffee plants but we picked fresh fruit off the trees on the farms, the families of the producers made us homemade empanadas and fresh salsa where we all gathered around to enjoy one another’s presence and hear about the farms history, the struggles the farmer has faced and how they wish to improve. Every farmer was beyond thankful for us visiting their farms, even though I think we were just as grateful for them letting us onto their farms and into their homes. Some varieties of coffee plants we saw and learned about were Erecta, mocha varietal, excelsa, Hairrar, Arara, Yellow variety, Pink Bourbon and more.
We cupped 96 different cups of coffee total, from washed, to naturals, to funky, to fun, to delicate and beyond. After each cupping we would sit with the other roasters on the trip to all give our final score of the coffee and the notes of the coffee. When you score a cup of coffee you are rating it on the fragrance/ aromas (dry then wet), the flavor, aftertaste, acidity, body of the cup, uniformity, clean cup, sweetness and the overall balance of the cup. Some of the most fun notes I got in some of the coffees were citrus, candy like, smokey, fruity, and nutty, but each cup was so unique and of course the best coffee I had ever tasted.
After we had completed the cuppings and finalized our scores we had a dinner with all of the producers that were ranked in the top 30 for best cup, this dinner entailed wine, supper, a live band, dancing, speeches and applauses for all of and from all of the producers. We were not there for the wine and supper but we were there to appreciate all of the hard work of the producers and how far they have come making it to the top 30. Every producer was so thankful for us making it to Colombia and ranking their coffee in order to make it into the top 30 for Best cup. The most beautiful part about the entire trip was how thankful every farmer was towards us.
On the second to last day we prepared and arrived at the auction, we were in an underground outdoor stage where the farmers and their entire families were in the stands blowing whistles, horns, throwing their shirts around. I felt like I was going into a fighting rink but the most amazing, fun fighting rink ever. We sat front row right infront of the stage along with all the other roasters there, we all received a poncho and a paddle with a number on it (Waterbean was number 15). Kalina and I knew exactly what we were going for and exactly what we wanted which was the #1 and #2 ranked coffee. This was our goal and we were so hungry for it, we did everything we could possibly do to get it and we did. As we were going up the numbers, starting at #15 and making our way up to #1 ranked it was getting rowdier and rowdier as we got closer to the #1 ranked which made Kalina and I even hungrier and feistier, we chatted on our game plan which entailed keeping it cool but being the feistiest girls there and we succeeded with that.
We are now on #10 ranked, and I receive a notification from Tony to go for #8 as well. Once we were on #8 we fought for it with several other companies and at the end we got it for $6.50 per/lb.
We now are moving up to #2 and once we get there we know these next two microlots are the most important for us to win. During the bidding for #2 we were going back and forth with another company, Kalina and I both knowing we needed to fight for it, but we compromised. We ran over to the company (kindness and mischief based out of Los Angeles, CA) and asked them if they would stop bidding so we could go in on it together and split the lot since we were at our max offer. They agreed which left us to getting the #2 ranked coffee for $12 per/lb. The farmer, Jefferson Andres Bolaños was extremely thankful for us being his customers
and for giving back to his farm and his family.
This is it… we are on #1 ranked coffee and the crowd is going more than wild at this point, my heart was racing so fast I thought it was going to beat out of my chest. This felt like the most important moment of my life. Before the #1 ranked farmer arrived on stage her name was called to inform her she had even been ranked #1, she had no idea where she stood until that moment. Tears began rolling down her face as she was so thankful to be standing in first place and as the first ever women producer to be ranked #1. We all started crying feeling so joyful and proud of her.
But there was no more time for tears from Kalina and I… we had coffee to bid on and win. The bid started at $5.00 per/lb. It felt at first Waterbean was the only one bidding on it competing with one other company, then it hit $10 and it felt like a whole war began. Kalina and I are now on our feet screaming, yelling our bid and jumping for joy as we received it and the next second we would turn around and we would be outbid. It had now gotten to $15 at this point and we were getting nervous. So what did Kalina and I do? We ran over to the one other company bidding, stared him in his face and held up our paddle showing number 15.
We wanted this coffee. The other company kept outbidding us as we were fighting back and forth for it going up each time by 50 cents. We finally reach the 20’s, still going back and forth, but we didn’t quit. We now get to $25 per/lb and at this point I know we are so close to winning, we get louder and prouder knowing we are going to win this coffee. Thinking we had it at $25.50, the other company jumps in behind us and bids up a dollar, we are now at $26.50. We bid for $27 but we got outbid for 50 cents again. I started to yell to the auctioneer “TWENTY-SEVEN-FIFTY, WE WANT IT FOR TWENTY-SEVEN-FIFTY. GIVE IT TO US!!!”. The bidding was silent, no one had raised their paddles and the auctioneer yelled “going once, going twice” and I look behind me to make sure the other company wasn’t going to try and outbid us last minute. “SOLD TO WATERBEAN COFFEE FOR $27.50” yelled the auctioneer. We start getting sprayed with foam, we jump up
and down, screaming for joy, tears rolling down our face, hugs from Jairo the owner of BanExports and everyone around us. We did it, we just got the #1 ranked Colombian Beans.
The farmer, Mirta Eugenia who just won best cup covered her face with her hands expressing tears of joy, gratitude and happiness. We walk up on stage to join Mirta in celebration, she expresses how thankful she is for us and how much this will change her life. The best part about winning Mirta’s lot was knowing how thankful she was for us fighting for her. Mirta, her family and everyone else continuously thanked Waterbean, Kalina, and I for the bid we made. It was beyond a blessing knowing how much this will impact Mirta’s farm and family, she can now upgrade her equipment to achieve more productions on her farm at a more efficient level. After the auction had been completed they threw us a party with supper and a live band to dance to. Everyone was on cloud 9 that night so we danced the night away which led us to leaving the next day. If I could have, I would have stayed in Colombia forever and worked on the coffee farms.
Thank you Waterbean for truly changing Mirta Eugenia Grijalba Moncayo’s life, it was such an honor being in Colombia to represent Waterbean and experiencing the most kindhearted people I have ever met and having the opportunity to become more educated and experienced in one of the most important things in my life which is coffee.