By the STiR Staff
Women coffee farmers won both first and second place at Myanmar’s first national cupping competition held in Yangon in July. The event was organized by the Myanmar Coffee Association and Coffee Quality Institute (CQI). Fifty-eight samples were collected for the competition from a diverse cross section of smallholder farmers and coffee estates in Shan State and evaluated by a panel of three international Q graders and regional observers using Q system protocols for green physical and roasted coffee sensory evaluation. Twenty-one of the samples cupped at 80 points or higher on the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) 100-point scale, thus qualifying as specialty coffees.
The win signaled the emergence of smallholders capable of producing specialty coffee competitive on the global market. Their coffee received top scores of 84.25 points and 84.08 points, respectively, exceeding scores for coffees submitted by a number of large estates. Both women hailed from the same village in southern Shan State, where they each tend lots of less than one acre planted with cataui variety arabica coffee at more than 4,000 ft. elevation. Their coffees were cited for their well-balanced, full-bodied aromas and low acidity. This first official cupping attests to the excellent overall quality of Myanmar-grown coffees.
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.
The Coffee Quality Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working internationally to improve the quality of coffee and the lives of people who produce it. In order to achieve our mission, we provide training and technical assistance to coffee producers and other individuals in the supply chain to increase the value, volume, and sustainability of high quality coffee production. CQI has worked on a multitude of coffee programs worldwide, completing over 500 training assignments while building a common language of quality used throughout the supply chain. To learn more, visit www.coffeeinstitute.org.