Myanmar coffee competition yields exciting results

The winning coffee at the Third Annual Myanmar Coffee Association (MCA) Coffee Quality Competition scored a record-breaking 89.58 points, underscoring the continuing improvement in the quality of coffees being produced in the Asian nation. The Ywangan micro-lot entered by MCA member Mandalay Coffee Group bested last year’s winner of the event by more than two points on the Specialty Coffee Association scoresheet. It was both the top-scoring dry natural process category coffee and the overall winner of the competition. Judges described the coffee as “clean and complex,” with the flavours of “orange, lemon, strawberry and red currant.” The quality of coffees entered rose across the board for a second straight year, with 26 of 72 coffees achieving 85-points or better on a 100-point scale. The majority of those achieving 85-points were dry natural processed coffees produced by smallholder community farmers. The competition is a project of the USAID-funded Value Chains for Rural Development project, implemented by Winrock International, and organised by the Myanmar Coffee Association and Coffee Quality Institute (CQI). It was hosted at the Shwe Danu and Value Chains project office and coffee lab in Ywangan town, Shan State. A preliminary screening by national cuppers was held 23-28 February with qualifying coffees advancing to an international round of judging 1-5 March. Three international judges and five resident national cuppers assessed the coffee samples using SCA cupping protocols and a competition format established by the Coffee Quality Institute. The national cupping team was led by Charlie Habegger of Blue Bottle Coffee (USA). The international team was led by head judge Dr. Sunalini Menon of Coffee Lab International (India), with Raw Material Coffee co-founder Richard Corney (New Zealand), and Sustainable Harvest Relationship Manager Dane Loraas (USA) as judges. Top-scoring samples from the competition and others from participating communities will be on-hand to taste at the London Coffee Festival, 6-9 April, and the SCA Global Coffee Expo in Seattle on Saturday, April 22nd from 3:45p until 5:30p in the Cupping Exchange area, room #618. Myanmar’s community coffee farmers are supported through the Value Chains project, which links smallholder farmers with competitive commercial value chains to increase agricultural productivity and promote inclusive agricultural growth. The project, implemented by Winrock International, employs a “people-to-people” approach to increase smallholder agriculture income.  CQI is working on behalf of the project to improve coffee quality and productivity in Myanmar.

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