For the first time, roaster Mars has participated as a judge in the Cup of Excellence from Mexico.
In May, she visited Mexico for the Cup of Excellence. We asked Mars a few questions, here comes the full interview. Happy Reading!
When did you visit Mexico?
16 May - 23 May 2022
In which area/region in Mexico have you been?
Mexico City (visiting and passing through), Teotihuacan (where COE cupping, jury and ceremony happened), Puebla (the region of the farms that we visited)
How does the Cup of Excellence coffee travel work? How do one get in?
You have to be a member of the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE). It’s an annuel membership, then you can apply for participating at different origins. To be part of the jury, you have to be an experienced cupper who is able to score coffees according to the COE format. The first time you join at the origin, you have to first be an observer (you still get to cup and score the coffees just like the jurors, but your score won’t count). When you participate at the origin from the second time and onwards, you would be an International Juror.
Did you learn anything new about coffee / farming during your travels?
The way how producing countries and consuming countries treat coffees is very different. Coffee people in the producing countries (including farmers, producers, roasters, baristas, etc.) are all very proud of their coffees and treat their coffees like treasures. Their love for coffee is very big and you can see it in every part of the chain.
I learned varieties that are local to their origins that I’ve never heard of. For example, Marsellesa in Mexico.
Farming specialty coffee is really difficult. One wrong step in fertilising, pruning, processing, or uncontrollable factors like the weather, would immediately affect the cup quality. Could be minus a couple of points, or even degrading it completely to a commercial coffee.
It’s very labour intensive to ensure the high quality of specialty coffee. From handpicking only the ripened coffee cherries to hand sorting defects to turning coffees on the drying bed, every step requires people to do it with care.
Have you learned something about processing that you were not aware of?
Even processings are usually broadly categorised as Natural, Washed and Honey. There are so many micro differences in how producers are doing it. They all have their little magic tricks and tips.
What was the most exciting thing that you've experienced?
Getting to know the people behind the coffees. Even we had language barriers, we all try to communicate and understand each other and share the passion for the same thing - Coffee.
Would you like to go again?
Absolutely, without doubt.
What does the Cup of Excellence mean to you?
It is an encouragement and recognition for producers to produce the best coffee they can. Green buyers get to taste these coffees and support the procuders for their great work. It is also a community of coffee people (from farm to cup) to share their love for coffee.
Picture with the courtesy of Mars Ng - Thank you so much for sharing.