02/10/2017

How Coffee Auctions Have Benefited The Industry ?

In July 2017, a 100-pound lot of natural process Geisha from Hacienda La Esmeralda, with a cupping score 94.1, broke a world record at the latest Best of Panama ( BOP ) coffee action — sold at US$601 per pound green beans. Wanna know more about the story of this coffee ? Read Where To Buy The World's Most Expensice Coffee ? As this exciting news is still being one of the hot-talks in the coffee industry, do you know what is coffee auctions and how do they benefit the industry ?ext here...

What is Coffee Auctions ?

Coffee was first auctioned online in 1999. These auctions allow producers to promote the quality of their harvests, their quality and potentials to the whole world. There are 2 main worldwide coffee auctions -

1. Cup of Excellence ( COE ) program organised by Alliance Coffee Excellence ( ACE ) 

2. Best of Panama ( BOP ) organised by Specialty Coffee Association of Panama ( SCAP )

These are competitions which producers bring their finest beans (85+ cupping score) to be judged by jury ( certified Q-graders ) from all around the world. Each year, among thousands of coffee, the winning coffee will then be auctioned to the global buyers. The top-scored coffee achieves the highest prices. On average, the “Top 10” coffee of the competitions will be cupped at least 120 times. 

Why Coffee Auction ? - Because it’s beneficial !

There are a lot of benefits from doing coffee auctions to the whole industry, and even the whole world. I summarised 4 underneath, you will then completely understand why we talk about it. 

1. Coffee quality is proportional to prices

2 decades ago, prices of your cup of joe didn’t necessarily proportionate to the quality. People back then drank coffee mainly seeking for the caffeine high. It made sense that coffee was cheap because no matter how was the coffee quality, producers got the same price per pound of coffee. They tended to chase for quantity then quality.

After the specialty coffee concept started prevailing, demand for better quality coffee grew only higher and higher. With the aid of coffee suctions, higher quality coffee could sell at a higher price as a quality premium to the producers. This made them to be more willing to grow better quality, instead of quantity.

Now, it is of certain that coffee quality is proportional to prices. Why is your coffee more expensive ? Because the quality is better.

2. Raising living standards

As a coffee lover, like you and me, coffee is our daily fuel. Remember the days we drank shit coffee everyday ? Since the industry is more and more aware of coffee quality, your everyday cup secretly improved a lot. Your coffee taste better day by day.

This is not only raising our quality of life but also producers’ quality of life. Because of their effort and quality production, they are able to change their own living. Because of coffee auctions happening every year, they have the chance to improve their living by planting better coffee.

3. Specialty Coffee become more transparent

Coffee auctions make this industry transparent. Because of the auctions, we are able to trace back until which farm and who plant the coffee. It also allow us to give credit back to producers, who spent their sweat pursuing coffee perfection in farms. We are able to choose our favourite regions' coffee or even favourite farms. We are able to know more about the processing methods in details. Producers are also be able to easily share these information to the end-consumers.

High transparency enables roasters to better understand the potential of the beans so to design the roasting profile. It also makes it easily for barista to understand how to better brew the coffee so to express the best of the beans. 

Everything has its pros and cons 

Coffee auctions do make a more competitive environment among producers in origins and make coffee prices more expensive. However, it does more good than harms to the industry. Comment below and let me know what you think ! If you haven't been familiar with Specialty Coffee, read 4 Reasons to Love Specialty Coffee

P.S. I am lucky to be one of the first batch of barista to do a cupping with Esmeralda Geisha 601 in Hong Kong. The quality was stunningly amazing. I am looking forward to them breaking record in the next coffee auction.

Vanessa Lee

Founder of Forbidden Project since 2016. A Law & Bus degree graduate who chose to go into the coffee world. Passionate, stubborn and rebellious to traditional concepts. Recently working as a barista trainer. Active competitor in various coffee events.

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