Ethiopia’s coffee auction breaks records

The 2020 Ethiopia Cup of Excellence (COE) auction of coffee on Monday broke records, with total sales of $1,348,690 topping…

The 2020 Ethiopia Cup of Excellence (COE) auction of coffee on Monday broke records, with total sales of $1,348,690 topping the previous record of $830,245 from El Salvador in 2011.The El Salvador auction had 42 lots for sale, while the COE Ethiopia auction included only 28, achieving a record-high average price of $28 per pound.

The top-scoring coffee in the 2020 COE Ethiopia competition sold at $185.10 US per pound or $407 per kilogram. The Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) says this is the highest price ever recorded for an Ethiopian coffee.

Half of the lot was purchased by Maruyama Coffee Co from Japan and its buying group, consisting of Saza Coffee, Cometeer, Goodboybob Coffee, Difference Coffee, and Harrods. The other half of the lot was purchased by Sarutahiko Coffee Inc from Japan.

Its producer, Nigusie Gemeda of Sidama, was stunned to see the price paid for his coffee.

“I have been a coffee farmer for a long time, but I am just learning the value of our coffee. I am so happy with the result. Never could I have imagined coffee would have sold with such a price. Now I know there is a reason for coffee to be called the green gold,” he says.

The 168 registered buyers from 33 countries bid 4137 times for more than five hours to secure the sought-after winning coffees.

The second-from-the-top coffees coming from Rumudamo Coffee in Sidama, had a total of 902 bids, another record number in the competition history.

“It’s a powerful lesson and beyond what we could have had imagined. We sell our coffee for less than a dollar at times and it’s been discouraging for growers.

Now we see there is a market we can tap into if we can guarantee the quality,” says Ato Bogale Woledehana, General Manager of Rumudamo Coffee.

The United States Company Coffee at Intelligentsia won out in the competitive bid, paying a price of US$108 per pound.

“Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee and widely considered to be the producer of the most delicious coffees in the world, yet many of its farmers are among the poorest. This auction sends a message of hope that not only validates the investments – and associated risks – in quality but also serves as a reminder that the quality movement is here to stay” said Geoff Watts, Vice President of Coffee at Intelligentsia.