I recently wrote about the Hawaii Coffee Association’s decision to withhold the point scores and quality ranking of coffees independently judged for its 2011 statewide cupping competition.

My position on the matter has not changed and I reiterate my concerns that the lack of transparency in this year’s cupping competition:

  • diminishes its effectiveness as a learning tool
  • puts in question the credibility of its results
  • limits the incentive for competitors to improve each year; and most sadly
  • cheapens the accomplishments of its best performers

…and I’m not the only one left wondering.

Shawn Steiman, examines the issue thoroughly in his recent blog entry.

Shawn’s sentiments echo my own, as well as those we have each privately heard from competitors and judges involved with the event who disagree with the HCA’s approach:

It is this very act of protection which, in my opinion, undermines the competition.

As always, Shawn’s upbeat style of optimism shines through his words like a rainbow of hope:

To promote and celebrate the coffees of Hawai’i means embracing the diversity and discussing it with pride. It is not only okay, but fantastic, that there are so many different coffee flavor profiles in Hawai’i grown coffee.” Hiding the scores and rankings prevents anyone from saying “we have so much to offer. We have something for everyone”.

Shawn concludes his thoughts with an interesting appeal to those farmers involved in the competition:

To all entrants of the 2011 Hawai’i Statewide Cupping Competition, I encourage you to publicly disclose your overall ranking and your cupping score. I volunteer to collate this information and publish it on this blog for anyone to see and contemplate (=send them to me!). I, nor anyone else, will think ill of an entrant who chooses not to disclose their coffee’s information.

What a wonderful idea!

This is an excellent opportunity for Hawaii’s farmers to show that they have matured beyond the small-town politics that have hampered the State’s industry association for decades. I urge all of this year’s competitors to stand up and voluntarily submit your scores to Dr. Steiman to be published publicly on his website and, we can hope, syndicated to numerous other media outlets.