In December, the Rainforest Alliance held their annual Cupping for Quality event, and we have the results to share! The short version: Peru and Kenya are on top!

Since 2003, the Rainforest Alliance has held their coffee cupping event that was modeled after similar ones in the industry. Since then, the Rainforest Alliance Cupping for Quality has provided an opportunity for Rainforest Alliance Certified™ coffees to be evaluated by industry experts. These experts analyze and recognize coffees that further do what their certification promotes, highlighting links between sustainability in farm management  and high quality product. It also provides the coffee producers for feedback on how to improve their product if recommended.

This biannual event takes place at the same time when there are coffee harvest cycles. It occurs once in New York in the spring for Central and South American coffees, then later in December in Long Beach for coffees that hail from Brazil, Peru, East Africa and Indonesia.

The official results of the Rainforest Alliance Cupping from this past December are out! Here are the details given to us from our friends at the Rainforest Alliance.

Sustainable Coffees Recognized for Quality at the Rainforest Alliance Cupping

Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms in Peru and Kenya earned top scores at the Rainforest Alliance’s December Cupping for Quality, held at the Specialty Coffee Association of America Lab in Long Beach, California. The Rainforest Alliance’s biannual cupping events recognize farmers for their hard work in producing high quality sustainable coffee.

A total of 45 coffee samples from eight origins were submitted, including the debut of coffees from the Karatu and Kilimanjaro regions of Tanzania. The highest score — 87.9 points — went to Tunki, a two acre farm located in the Puno region of Peru. Over 95 percent of the samples scored above 80, the threshold for the designation of ‘specialty coffee’ — a clear indication that sustainable farming practices can contribute to the production of high-quality coffee.

“It’s only natural that Rainforest Alliance Certified farms would produce more and better quality coffee,” said Maya Albanese, event hostess and coordinator of the Sustainable Agriculture Division at the Rainforest Alliance. “When you improve workers’ conditions and livelihoods, farms become more productive. When you reduce waste, energy consumption, and agrochemical usage, you increase soil quality and biodiversity, thereby facilitating the production of a better crop.”

Top Ten Scoring Coffees:

Tunki Peru 87.92
Deep River, Kwanyoka Estate Kenya 86.06
Ururi Peru 85.25
Mihando Kenya 85.19
Madan Coffee Plantation Papua New Guinea 84.56
Githaka Kenya 84.50
Kihuri Estate Kenya 84.41
Machure Estate Kenya 84.33
Muthaite Kenya 84.31
Parry Estate, Kona Gold Coffee Plantation USA (Hawaii) 84.25

Highest Scoring Farms By Country:

Brazil 83.55 Fazenda Baú I- Grupo Mogyana de Certificação RAS – Stockler
83.52 Fazenda São João Grande e Dona Neném
83.23 Fazenda São Lourenço / Comercial Mineira S/A
USA – Hawaii 84.25 Parry Estate, Kona Gold Coffee Plantation
84.13 Parry Estate, Kona Gold Coffee Plantation
Indonesia 81.97 PT. Menacom-Pante Raya
81.92 Asmoro
80.78 Pedamaran Plantation, PT. Toarco Jaya
India 83.83 Aljasri
83.78 Margolly Estate
83.05 Karadibetta Estate
Kenya 86.06 Deep River, Kwanyoka Estate
85.19 Mihando
84.50 Githaka
Peru 87.92 Tunki
85.25 Ururi
83.03 AAchamal
Papua New Guinea 84.56 Madan Coffee Plantation
81.14 Madan Coffee Plantation
Tanzania 84.17 Ngila Estate Ltd
83.86 Ngila Estate Ltd 1
82.56 Machare Estate

To see the full results from the December 2011 Cupping for Quality, please visit:

A panel of 17 expert cuppers, representing coffee importers, roasters, and retailers large and small in North America, evaluated the profile of the coffees according to aspects such as aroma, acidity, uniformity, and balance.

The samples were roasted and cupped by Rocky Rhodes of International Coffee Consulting, Ted Vautrinot of Kean Roasters, and Andrew Phillips of Rose Park Roasters.

The cupper team included:

  • Shawn Hamilton, Lead Cupper & VP of Plant Operations, Java City
  • Jeffrey Chean, Groundwork Coffee
  • Trish Rothgeb, Wrecking Ball Coffee
  • Darrin Daniel, Allegro Coffee Company
  • Adam Kline, Atlantic Specialty Coffee / ECOM
  • Michael C. Boyd, Boyd’s Coffee Company
  • Alexandra Katona, Coffee Quality Institute
  • Kika Miramontes, InterAmerican Coffee
  • Ian Kluse, Olam Americas
  • Patrick Russell, Second Cup
  • Fernando Seminario, Sustainable Harvest
  • Dane Loraas, Sustainable Harvest
  • Stephen Leach, Maranatha Import Export Pty Ltd.
  • David Sager, Maranatha Import Export Pty Ltd.

Cupper Steve Leach stated that Rainforest Alliance certification is a “win-win for all partners in the supply chain. The producers get a better price, there’s less risk of quality problems at the exporter/importer level and the roaster is better assured of receiving the quality contracted for. Being involved in a sustainable program helps ensure that we will have continued access to the product our customers expect.”

The Rainforest Alliance Cupping for Quality takes place twice a year to accommodate various coffee harvest cycles around the world. On March 28-30, 2012, a new set of certified coffees from regions including Central and South America will be evaluated during the Spring Cupping event.

To learn more about Rainforest Alliance Certified™ coffee and how certification benefits coffee farming communities, please visit


The Rainforest Alliance works with people whose livelihoods depend on the land, helping them transform the way they grow food, harvest wood and host travelers. From large multinational corporations to small, community-based cooperatives, businesses and consumers worldwide are involved in the Rainforest Alliance’s efforts to bring responsibly produced goods and services to a global marketplace where the demand for sustainability is growing steadily. For more information, visit

For more on the Rainforest Alliance and their coffee ventures, you might want to know that:

  • Caribou Coffee set a goal of sourcing 100 percent of the coffee and espresso that is used across all its products and platforms from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms by the end of 2011. (Read more here)
  • is a website launched by our friends at the Rainforest Alliance. This online resource provides consumers with a window into the world of Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee farms. (Read more here)
  • Java City ™ coffee, which is 100 percent Rainforest Alliance Certified™ is offered onboard all American Airlines flights as part of the airline’s inflight beverage service. (Read more here)
  • The Rainforest Alliance has an annual gala that recognizes companies and individuals for their combined efforts with the Rainforest Alliance on making sustainable changes and decisions. (Read more here, and read even more here)

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