The 2018 Cup of Excellence in Nicaragua has awarded 35 coffees with a score of 86.66 or above. Out of 214 farmers who submitted their lots, 40 coffees were submitted to a jury comprised of coffee professionals from Russia, Bulgaria, Netherlands, Germany, the United States, Mexico, South Korea and Japan. The competition also yielded a large percentage of winners from the region of Matagalpa, where the competition was held from 10 to 13 April. Other winning regions included Nueva Segovia, Jinotega and Madriz. The top lot, from Luis Alberto Balladares Moncada's farm, La Bendicion, scored a 91.80 with a natural processed Red Pacamara from Nueva Segovia. Balladares said, “Competition in coffee stimulates quality and service.” In a repeat performance, last year's second place winner, Gonzalo Adán Castillo Moreno, placed second again with his hybrid variety Centroamericano. Castillo's honey processed coffee scored an impressive 90.42 and made headlines last year with the joint project with World Coffee Research and Exportadora Atlantic's hybrid program. This year, there were four coffees in the Top 11 that were hybrids derived from the program. Head Judge Scott Conary described the overall experience as, “A mix of varietal and process which have led to delightful experiences and wonderfully balanced coffees. Bright & sweet acidity, that is crystal clear and lasting, share the table with rich, creamy and fruit forward coffees with nice depth. The range shows spectacular examples of both traditional Nicaraguan coffees and also some remarkable different profiles that are sure to please. “These are the types of coffees I get excited to share with the judges,” Conary added. The Nicaragua Cup of Excellence online auction will be held on 5 June.