WHO: Dignitaries to be attending the Cup of Excellence award ceremony include: The Honorable Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda; Monique NSAZABAGANWA, Minister of Commerce; Christophe Bazivamo, Minister of Agriculture; Dr. Silas Lwakabamba, president of the National University of Rwanda; Dr. Elsa Murano, president of Texas A&M University; Susie Spindler, director of the Cup of Excellence; Francis Gatare, director of the Rwandan Investment and Export Promotion Agency; Dr. Edwin Price, executive director of the Borlaug Institute; and Alex Kanyankole, director of the National Coffee Board.
WHAT: 2008 Cup of Excellence international coffee competition. It is an internationally sanctioned coffee competition and online auction, and the premiere coffee event of the year. An international panel of 24 judges, including representatives from the U.S., France, U.K., Japan, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Switzerland, Germany and Sweden, will evaluate hundreds of coffees submitted from coffee-growing regions throughout the world. Rwanda itself will submit about 200 different coffees from some 120 coffee-washing stations throughout the country. Each submission of Rwandan coffee is the result of the work of from 60 to 1,200 farmers.
WHEN: Aug. 18-22: national jury dates Aug. 24-29: international jury dates Aug. 29: National Coffee Day (all day) and post-competition awards ceremony (beginning at 6 .p.m), and live auction of non-winning coffees.
The winning coffees from the competition will be sold via Internet auction beginning at 9 a.m. EST on Oct. 14. All lots remain open until there is a bid on them; companies submitting the highest bid will acquire the lots.
WHERE: Coffee judging will take place at the Rwandan Small Holder Specialty Coffee Company (RWASHOSCCO) Southern Regional Coffee Quality and Training Center, Kizi, Huye, BP 52 Butare, Huye, Rwanda.
Cup of Excellence award ceremony/announcement of winners: Serena Hotel, 1 Rue de la Revolution, Kigali, Rwanda.
National Coffee Day activities: Garden area across from the Serena Hotel, Kigali, Rwanda. WHY: The Cup of Excellence competition is the single most important event for determining the best specialty coffees from around the world. This is the first time Africa has hosted the event. It also provides a great opportunity for Rwanda to showcase its vastly improved coffee industry and new status as a major country of origin for specialty coffees.
BACKGROUND: For the first time, Africa will host the prestigious Cup of Excellence international specialty coffee competition. Principal sponsors of this year’s Cup of Excellence include: U.S. Agency for International Development/SPREAD (Sustaining Partnerships to Enhance Rural Enterprise and Agribusiness Development)project; Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture (Texas A&M System); Alliance for Coffee Excellence; National Coffee Board of Rwanda (OCIR-Café); National University of Rwanda; and Rwandan Small Holder Specialty Coffee Company.
Rwanda held its first national coffee competition, the 2007 Golden Cup, last August as a prelude to hosting this year’s Cup of Excellence. Being selected as this year’s host nation for the Cup of Excellence is important for Rwanda, particularly since it was virtually unknown as a specialty coffee country of origin as little as five years ago. Thanks mainly to efforts through the SPREAD project, Rwanda’s coffee industry has rebounded and it is now a bona fide contender in the world specialty coffee market. During last year’s Golden Cup competition, five of the top 10 Rwandan coffees scored at least 90/100 as evaluated by an international jury, with the winning coffee receiving the exceptionally high auction price of $25 per pound.
SPREAD is an alliance between U.S. and Rwandan universities, U.S. and European industries, Rwandan enterprises and institutions, and U.S. and Rwandan non-governmental organizations. It is funded by USAID, and program activities are led by the Borlaug Institute. The project helps rural Rwandan agricultural cooperatives and enterprises by providing them with technical assistance, hands-on instruction and agribusiness expertise which allows them to increase income and improve livelihood. Along with coffee, the SPREAD project is helping Rwandan farmers develop and market other high-value agricultural products, including cassava and chili peppers. -30-