In the first internet auction of its kind for African coffees, coffee companies from around the world bid top prices for winning lots from Ethiopian cooperative coffee producers. The ECAFE Foundation, who organized the auction, sourced the coffee from 150 coops in eight regions across the country to reflect the diversity and quality of coffee grown in Ethiopia.
The auction was the culmination of ECAFE Foundation's 2-year project that worked with Ethiopian coffee producers to identify high quality coffees and conduct regional and national cupping competitions to promote them.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, of Waterbury, VT topped the charts with an auction-high bid of $6.50/lb for Wotona Bultuma Cooperative's Fair Trade Certified and Organic certified beans. ECAFE's international jury of cuppers characterized the coffee as having a "velvety body with balanced fruit notes, pleasant acidity and lingering berry and honey notes."
As a reflection of a growing trend in coffee auctions, the second highest bid at $5.50 was placed by a Cooperative Bidding Group of Sacred Grounds, Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting, Boot Coffee, Montana Coffee Traders, Wilson's Coffee and Tea, Ecco Cafe, and Petaluma Coffee Roasting. These small roasters were eager to support the small farmers of Ethiopia through the relatively new concept of cooperative bidding, which allows small roasters to bid competitively against large coffee companies.
The auction generated more than $187,800 for the farmers, at an average price of $3.22 per pound, compared to the market price of $1.30 per pound, according to ECAFE Chief Financial Officer Colleen Crosby. All proceeds will be distributed to the cooperatives. Crosby estimates that roughly a $75,000 premium over the market was paid for these distinctive beans, proving that bidders recognized the exemplary quality of coffee produced by Ethiopia's cooperatives.
"ECAFE is proud to sponsor this groundbreaking effort to bring the best Ethiopian coffees to the industry. Finally, farmers at the coop level who produce these exemplary coffees will receive the prices and the recognition they deserve," said ECAFE President Willem Boot.
This first ECAFE auction was realized with the support of ACDI/VOCA, the Coffee Quality Institute, Coffee Corps, the Specialty Coffee Association of America, the Ethiopian Coffee & Tea Authorities and the Ethiopian Coffee Unions. For more information or to see the complete list of winning bidders and auction lots, please visit www.ecafefoundation.org.
ECAFE Foundation(TM) is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to the agricultural and economic development of farming communities that cultivate and produce rare and exemplary Arabica coffees. Although ECAFE Foundation's emphasis is educational programming, it also hopes to foster enduring relationships between top quality coffee growers and appreciative buyers.
ACDI/VOCA is a private, nonprofit organization that promotes broad-based economic growth and the development of civil society in emerging democracies and developing countries. Offering a comprehensive range of technical assistance services, ACDI/VOCA addresses the most pressing and intractable development problems. ACDI/VOCA is a diverse organization with headquarters in Washington D.C., regional offices in Ohio and California, and projects and staff in more than 35 developing and transitional countries.
The Specialty Coffee Association of America was formed in 1982 by a small group of coffee professionals seeking a common forum to discuss issues and set quality standards for the Specialty Coffee trade. Today, SCAA is the world's largest coffee trade association with more than 2,500 company members.