Myanmar coffee shatters records at cupping competition

High marks were awarded for quality at this year’s Myanmar Coffee Association (MCA) cupping competition, with the top lot earning over 87 points on the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) scale.  Quality rose across the board among all entrants with 56 of 60 samples exceeding the 80-point specialty cup quality threshold, according to the competition’s co-organiser, the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI). Last year’s winning coffee came in at 84.25. The overall winner was a fully washed SL34 lot from Green Land Coffee estate of Pyin Oo Lwin, at 87.08 points.  The winning coffee was described by judges as, “complex,” with “grapefruit, sugar cane, tomato, and dried fruit” flavours.  The number two overall and top dry natural coffee from Ma Mi Nyo smallholder community of Shan State earned 86.75 for their “clean and balanced,” coffee with flavors of “pineapple, cherry and apricot.”  The total lot size of each is five tons and 200kg, respectively. The event was part of the USAID-funded Value Chains for Rural Development project implemented by Winrock International and organized by the MCA and CQI.  It was hosted at the Mandalay Coffee Group cupping laboratory in Pyin Oo Lwin, Mandalay, from March 12-16. Three international judges and two local observers assessed the coffee. The international team included SCAA Board Member Andrew Hetzel, Momentum Coffee founder and SCAA Roasters Guild Executive Council President Allen Leibowitz and Sustainable Harvest Relationship Manager Dane Loraas. All coffees were collected for the competition from a diverse cross section of smallholder farmers and coffee estates, which were evaluated using SCAA protocols for green physical and roasted sensory evaluation.  The samples were double-blind coded and separated by processing method, of which thirty (30) were fully washed and thirty (30) dry natural processed.  The top ten (10) coffees from a preliminary round of cupping advanced to the finals, roasted and cupped a second time to establish a ranking order. Myanmar’s coffee farmers are supported by the USAID-funded Value Chains for Rural Development 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. Top-scoring samples from the competition and others participating in the project will be on-hand to taste at the SCAA Event in Atlanta, cupping exchange room C109 on Friday, April 15th beginning at 3:30 until 5:00pm.

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