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Expert jury at United Nations evaluated the world’s highest quality coffee lots grown in nine countries
New York, NY, October 17, 2017 – After rounds of blind tastings at the United Nations by an international independent jury of top culinary and coffee experts, illycaffè, the global leader in high-quality coffee and a pioneer of large-scale, directly-traded coffee, announced that coffee beans grown by Honduras’s José Abelardo Díaz Enamorado were designated “Best of the Best” in the 2017 Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award. The top-scoring coffee lot was named from among 27 of the world’s best lots from the 2016/2017 harvests in nine countries, at a gala last night attended by representatives of each grower and delegates from each nation. Coffee lovers will have a chance to judge -- and enjoy -- for themselves, when illy makes each of nine finalists beans available for purchase as a single origin next year at select illy Caffè locations.
In 1966, Díaz Enamorado and his wife, Daysi Clemencia Reyes, began planting coffee in the village of El Chimizal, with an initial area of 3.5 acres, in the region of Erandique. Alongside Honduras, coffee lots from Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Guatemala, India, Nicaragua and Rwanda were chosen to compete, following intensive analysis at illy’s Quality Lab at its Trieste, Italy headquarters. All nine finalists will comprise the legendary illy blend, known for decades for its unparalleled richness, complexity and consistency.
“It is an honor and a pleasure to recognize Mr. Díaz Enamorado for his achievement, and that of all of our finalists, which is nothing less than producing the highest-quality coffee in the world through sustainable methods," said Andrea Illy, chairman of illycaffè.
The Ernesto llly International Coffee Award, named for illy’s visionary, second-generation leader, recognizes excellence in raising coffee of the highest quality through sustainable means. The award celebrates his company’s hand-in-hand work with farmers to realize its dream of offering the best coffee to the world.
The Award is rooted in a program that illy established nearly three decades ago in Brazil, originally 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 most coffee continues 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.
This year, a panel of culinary and coffee experts from around the world took on the difficult task of choosing this year’s “Best of the Best” bean, whose judgments were based on criteria including aromatic richness/complexity, balance/elegance and aroma intensity/strength.
illy brought representatives of all 27 finalists to New York City for Monday’s proceedings at the United Nations, followed by a gala at the New York Public Library to honor the extraordinary achievements of all growers. In addition to “Best of the Best,” a “Coffee Lovers Choice” award, sponsored by illy partner United Airlines, determined by blind consumer tastings, was awarded to Juan Carlos Alvarez from Costa Rica. Katie Lee, renowned chef, cookbook author and co-host of Food Network’s “The Kitchen,” served as the gala’s emcee.