Cup of Excellence international jury came to Guatemala City during the week of May 24-28. They managed to award 28 farms, the largest number since 2002, in ANACAFE'S headquarters just before the Pacaya volcano started to through volcanic rocks and a rain or sand.
El Injerto, located in Huehuetenango, with its irresistible Pacamara variety, was again awarded first place, a position it remains since 2006 and lost only once in 2007. Followed by Rosma and Las Macadamias from Huehuetenango as well. For more information regarding the winning farms, you can visit cupofexcellence.org
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After the award ceremony, international jury members had to run to take a bus from Guatemala City to El Salvador's airport in Comalapa in order to leave the country. Guatemala's airport was closed for almost four days since volcanic sand was all over the main runway. Roofs, streets, gardens, buildings, trees or any other space was cover with at least 2 cm of black sand. Watch it here
It was only for one night. But enough to make all Guatemalans wake up early in the morning and experience a black snow that had to be swept and shoveled manually. Later that day, it started to rain, rain and rain for next three days. Hundreds of death and missing persons or left without a home or families was the result of a Tropical Storm named Agatha.
Initial assessments conducted by the National Coffee Association (ANACAFE) Pacaya volcano eruption and Tropical Storm Agatha, reported damage to several coffee growing areas. To date, estimated loss is 121.924 bags of 100 pounds of green coffee for 2010-2011. Volcanic activity caused the dispersion of rocks, ash, gravel and volcanic sand in the coffee growing areas of the municipalities of San Vicente Pacaya, Amatitlán and Villa Canales, located in the department of Guatemala.
In San Vicente Pacaya coffee plants were found defoliated, with lacerations on the leaves and small fruit burned. Tropical Storm Agatha caused landslides in road infrastructure and internal roads and mills of the production units, leaving municipalities in the department of San Marcos, Quetzaltenango, Retalhuleu, Suchitepéquez, Solola, Santa Rosa, Jutiapa, Jalapa and Las Verapaces with no access.
People living in better conditions have already overcome to all of the difficulties. Those with poor living conditions or that were evacuated are still living in shelters and lacking of basic food and water. Organizations around the world have already sent aid to those most needed ones.
It for sure was one of a kind award ceremony for Cup of Excellence and for Guatemalans as well. Ten years ago, a similar event happened but not as tragic as this one. All of the jury members made it home safely and are now waiting for the green samples of those award winning lots that will be auctioned July 14. For sure, they won't forget how Pacaya nourished Guatemalan soils and will be curious about how this event will influence in the cup profile in the coming years.