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Manuel Peña is Colombia’s New Taster Champion

BOGOTA, Colombia –During ExpoEspeciales Café de Colombia 2015, Manuel Peña won first place in the National Tasters Championship. He will now represent Colombia in the World Cup Tasters Championship in Shanghai, China.

For the past eight years, Mr. Peña has worked as coordinator of the tasting department of the Departmental Coffee Growers Committee of Valle del Cauca.

“I’m very happy to represent Colombia in Shanghai. It’s a great honor and a huge responsibility. My dream is to work for the more than 20,000 coffee growers from Valle del Cauca by increasing recognition of our coffee,” noted Mr. Peña.

A total of 111 tasters including coffee growers, exporters, instructors from the National Service of Learning (SENA), Departmental Coffee Grower Committees and producer associations participated in this year’s competition (37% more than the 81 participants in 2014).

During the National Tasters final, participants faced a triangulation of eight sets of three cups of coffee (two of which contained the same coffee). Their task was to identify the different cup of coffee. The participant with the highest number of hits in the least possible time was the winner.

Daniel E. Morales, who currently works for SKN Caribe Café Ltd., came in second place. This 29 year old taster from Bogotá dreams about traveling to Shanghai and improving his tasting skills. “I thank my family, friends and colleagues.

The hardest part of this competition is concentration. I trained with fellow participants and with tasting samples. Tasting is a technique that requires constant training and dedication,” noted Daniel.

Evelio Audidas Lasso from the department of Nariño came in third place. Mr. Lasso works for the SENA and has been passionate about coffee tasting since his brother won the competition years ago. “I hope to continue working with coffee in order to add value, help producers and incentivize new tasters to increase their income through this profession,” he pointed out.

The scores of the nine finalists were as follows: Johanna M. Burbano –ninth place– with three hits; Carlos F. Cerquera –eighth place– with three hits; Johan Cerquera –seventh place– with five hits; Deimer Gonzáles –sixth place– with five hits; Eunice Delgado –fifth place– with five hits; Ricardo Cárdenas –fourth place– with five hits; Evelio Audidas Lasso –third place– with six hits; Daniel E. Morales –second place– with seven hits; and Manuel Peña –first place– with seven hits in six minutes and 42 seconds.

Competitions supported by the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) such as the National Tasters Championship are powerful tools for promoting the quality of Colombian coffee and improving the living conditions of the country’s coffee growers.

Having more and better tasters in Colombia strengthens the position of Colombian coffee and foments its penetration in high value added markets. This, in turn, translates into higher income for Colombia’s coffee producers.