This is the hard part, although truth be told, this whole competition was tough even before we got here. Over 300 coffee samples were submitted for evaluation after being vetted through local regional competitions from a field of 350,000 farms. Of those 300+ samples, 150 qualified to move on to the National Competition.
From the National, the coffees were so good that the usual cut-off point to qualify, a score of 85, to move from here to the International Competition, had to be moved up to a score of 86.5 because so many coffees had scored 85!
Despite the higher barrier for moving on, 58 coffees qualified to be put in front of the International Jury (including yours truly). I have the unique perspective among the Int'l Jury to have been here last year for the Brazil Early Harvest Cup of Excellence. Then, as now, we started with 60 coffees. The difference being that after the first round, the Int'l Jury reduced the competitive field to 30 coffees moving up to the semi-finals; this year, we only cut 8 coffees. So we spent from 8am until 430pm trying to eliminate coffees that would move into the final 10 on Friday.
About 10 coffees eliminated themselves because at least one cup in that round had a defect. Of the 40 or so coffees left, while there were a few stand-outs, all the coffees were out standing!
Stay tuned for the results!