The Myanmar Coffee Association (MCA) is holding the 2nd Annual Certified Coffee Cupping Competition in Pyin Oo Lwin from March 12-16 at the Mandalay Coffee Group Co. Ltd.’s processing plant, Anisakan, Pyin Oo Lwin, Mandalay-Lashio By-Pass Road, Mandalay Division, according to NGO Winrock International, on 14 March.
Up to 60 coffee samples submitted by farmers from Myanmar’s Arabica-growing regions in and around Pyin Oo Lwin (Mandalay), Ywangan (Southern Shan), and other areas will be analysed by a three-member panel of accredited international judges.
The experts will determine whether the samples meet standards for certification as high-quality, specialty grade coffee, a designation that can help farmers earn premium prices in the fast-growing global specialty coffee market.
This year’s contest builds on the successes of last year’s inaugural competition, which saw smallholders perform well in the first-ever “cup-to-cup” competition with larger coffee farms in Myanmar, drawing international attention and interest from global buyers.
All of the farmers who submitted samples this year are eager to learn whether their coffees are comparable in quality to higher-grade coffees from other regions from around the world, as judged by international experts.
Entries that meet stringent criteria can be published in an international database used by specialty coffee traders/importers, and labelled as “Q Certified,” meaning the samples had no primary defects and scored an average of 80 or higher on a 100-point scale during sensory analyses.
This designation is an important indicator of quality and can help smallholder farmers link to potentially lucrative export markets.
The 2016 cupping competition judges are all from the U.S.A. and have vast experience in the global specialty coffee trade.
Myanmar’s coffee farmers are supported by the USAID-funded Value Chains for Rural Development project, which links smallholder farmers with competitive commercial value chains to increase agricultural productivity and promote inclusive agricultural growth.
The Value Chains project, implemented by Winrock International, employs a “people-to-people” and private-sector led approach to increase smallholder agriculture income.
According to Stephen Walls, Chief of Party of the USAID-funded Value Chains for Rural Development project: “Currently Myanmar is really a commodity coffee market.
Coffee has been grown for volume and mainly transported by land for the domestic 3-in-1 or mix markets, or for the Chinese market.
There has been no differentiation or premium paid based on quality.
We are working with farmers and processors and traders to help change that so farmers can earn a premium in recognition of the extra effort it takes to grow and sell really good, high quality coffee.”