Cup of Excellence equals Country of Excellence?

The coffee bean is coming home and Rwanda is one month away from writing another page in her history books. This is because in August this year it will play host to the first international Cup of Excellence (COE) competition event on the African continent.

The coffee bean is coming home and Rwanda is one month away from writing another page in her history books. This is because in August this year it will play host to the first international Cup of Excellence (COE) competition event on the African continent.

Perhaps it should not surprise many people given the fact that the country has been steadily accumulating a reputation for excellence. But it is indeed a great national honour to bring to Kigali this distinguished show made up of an elite group of international cuppers and seasoned jurors.

It is a remarkable way of announcing its entry into the premier club of the highest quality coffee producing countries in the world. For historical reasons, there still were people who did not associate Rwanda with coffee, leave alone the high-end quality brown bean.

Yet the truth is that the country has been seated up there among the finest producers in the world - the likes of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala Honduras and Nicaragua.

With the number one global coffee event coming here, it may mark the beginning of the end of any remaining ignorance about the Rwandan coffee.

The country has climbed the international coffee ladder by taking full advantage of the volcanic soils, abundant rainfall and high altitude mountains which make its coffee-growing conditions unbeatable the world over, to develop a niche for production of specialty grade coffee.

The aromatic Arabica Bourbon coffee beans have caught the attention of dealers and consumers at a time when national economic development strategies emphasize diversification and value addition.

This is another tangible result of the intensive marketing support being added to the already existing advantages of 100 percent full-washed production, tracking and traceability and unwavering commitment to quality.

The publicity, mainly through international media that Rwandan coffee is surely going to gain by way of having the Cup of Excellence competition here will highly benefit farmers.

They will no doubt learn a lot by being exposed to the rigorous cupping exercise. But equally important is the chance to explore partnerships with international entrepreneurs with a wider business network that can lead to higher sales and better prices.

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