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Costa Rica leads Central America in Cup of Excellence coffee auction

The breakaway favorite of Costa Rica’s 2014 Cup of Excellence competition took home the highest bid in the Alliance for Coffee Excellence international auction Tuesday.

Luis Enrique Navarro of Monte Copey in Dota, Tarrazú, winner of the Cup of Excellence in May, received $41.20/lb. for his lot. Maruyama Coffee, Sugi Coffee Roasting, Ponpon Coffee, and Orsir Coffee of Taiwan purchased 1,518 lbs. of Navarro’s coffee for $62,541.60.

The $41.20/lb. bid is so far the highest in Central America this year, followed by Honduras with $35.10/lb., El Salvador with $29.50, and Nicaragua with $21.20. The average price per pound of the 25 Costa Rican lots up for auction was $10.25, the highest in seven years, according to Specialty Coffee Association of Costa Rica, which organizes the auction locally. Cup of Excellence auctions for Guatemala and Mexico will take place on July 2 and 9, respectively.

Coffee futures traded at roughly $1.76/lb. Tuesday.

“It’s a great prize that we’ve worked toward for 35 years,” Navarro told The Tico Times, “[Winning the Cup of Excellence] is a radical change in our lives, in our family. Now we can live better. I thank God for all he has given us.”

The Navarro family also placed second, fourth and fifth in the Cup of Excellence competition this year.

Noelia Villalobos, executive director of SCACR, told The Tico Times that while not everyone takes home $60,000 for their coffee, qualifying for one of the 25 slots in the auction offers small producers international exposure that’s hard to put a price on.

Roasters around the world are not the only ones interested in Navarro’s beans. Hidennori Izaki, 2014 World Barista Champion from Japan, traveled to Navarro’s farm and worked with the family to select the coffee he used in the competition in Rimini, Italy in June.

The winning bid for Navarro’s coffee was close to Costa Rica’s record bid, $45/lb. in 2012. Judges culled 25 lots out of 117 submitted by famers this year that made it to auction Tuesday.

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