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Ethiopia Cup of Excellence suspended over country’s situational woes

After a three-year run that generated more than US$3 million in income for coffee farmers, the Ethiopia Cup of Excellence (CoE) program has been suspended for 2023.
CoE sibling nonprofit the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) announced the program suspension, saying the group hopes to bring back the green coffee competition and auction program in the 2024 calendar year.
The Ethiopia Cup of Excellence program was initially made possible through a partnership between United States-based ACE and the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority, with support from the United States government’s Feed the Future’s Value Chain Activity (FTFVCA), in concert with USAID.
According to ACE, the FTFVCA ended its scope of work with ACE/CoE in 2021, and the nonprofit began working directly with the Coffee and Tea Authority. ACE said the Coffee and Tea Authority ultimately made the decision to suspend operation of the event this year, due to, in ACE’s words, “numerous issues within Ethiopia to properly conduct all of our rigorous activities which are required for our program.”
“It is with great regret that we temporarily suspend 2023 CoE Ethiopia and re-assert our efforts towards a 2024 program,” ACE said, adding, “ACE and CoE have made every attempt to continue with the 2023 edition, but the situation in Ethiopia has forced us to suspend our operation.”
In its relatively short run, the Ethiopia Cup of Excellence program has resulted in some of the highest prices ever paid for green coffees at any global auction while garnering interest from high-end coffee buyers all over the world.
According to ACE’s own statistics, the Ethiopia event generated more than 5,000 coffee samples over the past three years, with numerous winners each year eclipsing the prestigious 90+ mark, according to scoring from ACE’s international juries.
Average per-pound prices in the Ethiopia CoE auction started exceptionally high in 2020 ($28.44 per pound), and continued to get higher in each subsequent year: $32.12 in 2021, and $37.51 in 2022. The top-scoring coffee at last year’s Ethiopia competition broke an all-time CoE price record at $400.50 per pound.

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