I’ve just returned back from the 2014 Brazil Cup of Excellence in the picturesque little town of Espirito Santo do Pinhal and can report that it was an “excellent” experience true to its name.

See my photos from the trip on Facebook

All of the coffees that we cupped were exceptional and particularly the top 23 COE winning-coffees, which are sure to change the mind of any dry natural process skeptics. Of note, the hands-down winning lot also happened to be produced by a woman farmer, which deserves extra recognition in the mostly male run world of coffee agriculture.

For anyone who has not yet participated on a Cup of Excellence international jury, I highly recommend the experience. In addition to doing some meaningful good in the name of advancing quality of specialty coffee, it’s a fun and rewarding week working side-by-side with a very talented group of coffee professionals from around the world. Although the hours were long and conditions sometimes challenging, the time passed effortlessly in the company of so many old and new friends.

For the first time in its history, a female farmer has won the Brazil Cup of Excellence® Late Harvest competition. Cinthia Dias Villela from Nossa Senhora Aparecida of the Carmo de Minas region produced the highest scoring of 23 Cup of Excellence® award-winning coffees evaluated by an international panel of judges representing 10 countries.

The #1 lot score of 92.22 points set a new record for the Late Harvest competition.

Two other coffees in the competition also qualified for the Cup of Excellence® Presidential Award by achieving a score of 90 points or above: Lot #2, Fazenda Paraíso of Conceição das Pedras with 90.25 points and Lot #3, Sítio da Serra of Carmo de Minas at 90.19 points.

The Late Harvest competition, one of two Cup of Excellence® events held in Brazil each year, features Brazil’s exceptional dry natural processed coffees. An Early Harvest competition highlights top pulped natural and washed coffees. Both events are made possible with the support of ApexBrasil, the Brazilian trade and investment promotion agency.

The winning lots will be auctioned on March 4, 2014 on the Alliance for Coffee Excellence website. Auction preview cupping will be held in select locations worldwide beginning in late February.