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“Spirit of Peace Ex Combatants” from Colombia wins the 4th Ernesto Illy Award

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From left to right: Carlos Arturo Lopez, Andrea Illy, Anna Illy, Oscar Campo

NEW YORK, U.S. – illycaffè, the global leader in high-quality, sustainably grown coffee, announced ‘Spirit of Peace Ex Combatants’ – Asacafé (represented by Carlos Arturo López Guarnizo and Oscar Rodrigo Campo Hurtado) is the “Best of the Best” at the fourth annual Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award, held held on October 17 in New York City.

An independent jury of 9 top culinary and coffee connoisseurs from around the world gathered on October 15 for a series of blind coffee tastings, brewed individually from the harvests of nine different countries, to thoughtfully determine the best bean of the 2018-2019 season.

Twenty-seven top grower representatives from the nine countries, including this year Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Nicaragua and Rwanda, were recognized and celebrated in New York City for their sustainable quality. Each lot, before being examined by the independent jury in New York, was selected through intensive analysis at illy’s Quality Lab and then judged on aromatic richness/complexity, balance/elegance and aroma intensity/strength.

“It is an honor and a pleasure to recognize Colombia, ‘Spirit of Peace’ and Asacafè for their achievement, as well as applaud all of our finalists who are focused on producing the highest-quality coffee through sustainable methods,” said Andrea Illy, Chairman of illycaffè. “This award celebrates and honors the Spirit of Peace project, that we supported since the very beginning, with the aim to give a chance to the rural Colombian community of coffee to become the engine of a bigger transformation through the economic reintegration of the ex-combatants and their victims in the Cauca region.”

A separate “Coffee Lover’s Choice” honor was awarded to Rwanda’s Ngamba Coffee Washing Station, represented by Ms. Celine Niwemugeni, for the second consecutive year.

The Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award

The Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award, named after illycaffè’s visionary, second-generation leader, celebrates the company’s hand-in-hand work with farmers for nearly 30 years to offer the best sustainably grown coffee to the world, as well as its commitment to improving the wellbeing of the world’s coffee growers. The top growers in attendance also participated in a coffee-specific seminar hosted at the United Nations in New York by Chairman Andrea Illy and representatives from the ICO – International Coffee Organization, covering topics including best agronomical practices, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and long-term sustainability of the coffee sector.

The jury – a panel of tasting, culinary and coffee experts from around the world who took on the task of choosing this year’s “Best of the Best” bean – was comprised of:

Matthew Accarrino: Accarrino is the nationally recognized chef known for his unique culinary style drawn from his Italian heritage, personal experience and classical training. He was named a Star Chefs “2010 Rising Star,” a James Beard Foundation semi-finalist for “Best Chef: West” for four consecutive years, and Food & Wine’s “People’s Best Chef California” in 2013 and “Best New Chef” in 2014.

Jaquelin Adriana Mednilla de Águila: Aguila is Q-Grader and Barista from Anacafe Coffee School.

Victor Cadenas: Cadenas is a Q-Grader and professional coffee roaster in Costa Rica, roasting for Cup of Excellence for five years. He evaluates genetic materials and varieties for ICafe, Catie, World Coffee Research and others.

Berhanu Gezahegn: Gezahegn is Director of the Coffee Quality Inspection and Certification Center (CQICC) at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoANR) in Ethiopia. Previously, he served as its director for training and advisory service.

Anthony Giglio: Giglio is a writer, educator and storyteller focused on wine, spirits and other beverages. He writes a weekly “Wine Wise Guy” column for Food & Wine, is the wine reporter for CBS News Radio, and is a contributor for Departures, Esquire and other major media outlets. Additionally, he serves as Wine Director for The Centurion Lounge at LaGuardia airport.

Maria Loi: Loi is a Greek food ambassador, author and healthy lifestyle expert. She is a popular TV chef in Greece, and the author of more than 36 cookbooks and 150 magazine editions. She has been recognized as the Global Ambassador of Greek Gastronomy by The Chef’s Club of Greece and has since earned a reputation as the U.S. leader in authentic Greek cuisine.

Sunalini Menon: Menon is Asia’s first female professional in the field of coffee tasting, also known as coffee cupping. She has been called “Asia’s first lady of coffee.” Formerly, Menon was director of quality control for the Coffee Board of India, and founder of her own company, Coffee Labs, in Bangalore.

Spencer Turer: Turer is the Director of Coffee Operations at Coffee Enterprises. He has dedicated his career to creating coffee quality and has become a pioneer for roaster certification. He is also a writer and technical editor for ROAST Magazine and Tea & Coffee Trade Journal.

Francesco Apreda: Apreda is a renowned Italian chef and recipient of a Michelin star, securing his status as a world-class chef. His talent lies in the ability to recreate a modern Italian cuisine full of flavors and turn them into incredible dishes for a sensory eating experience like no other.

The “Coffee Lover’s Choice” award, presented by illycaffè CEO Massimiliano Pogliani, was determined by a demanding jury of its own: more than 1,000 discerning visitors to flagship illy cafès locations in London, Milan, Paris, Shanghai and San Francisco.

“The Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award starts with the unique illy blend, developed consistently year after year, which gives us a deep knowledge of the coffee origins. We then combine this expertise with our direct sourcing model, working hand-in-hand with coffee growers to produce the highest quality Arabica beans sustainably,” said Massimiliano Pogliani, illycaffè CEO. “Coffee lovers and connoisseurs around the world are becoming more and more interested in learning and understanding not only about aromatic and taste profile typical of a specific terroir – very similarly to what happens int the wine world – but also how their coffee is produced and who produces it. This is the deep meaning of this Award, which wants to shorten the distance and bring together growers & consumers.”

Direct Sourcing Pioneering

The Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award is rooted in a program that illy established 28 years ago in Brazil, called Premio de Qualidade do Cafè para Espresso, that drove illy’s transformation to a company that today purchases nearly 100 percent of its coffee beans directly from producers able to meet its exacting quality standards, at a guaranteed premium over market prices averaging 30 percent.

Today, illy stands as one of the world’s major purchasers of top-quality Arabica coffee directly from producers, whereby many coffees continue to be purchased on commodity markets, which can guarantee neither consistent quality nor a living wage to the coffee chain’s most important stakeholders: its 25 million families of growers.