Get to know the ‘Cup Of Excellence’ competition, an opportunity to introduce Thai coffee to the world

If you’re a fan of Thai specialty coffee, you’re probably familiar with the ‘Cup of Excellence’ or ‘COE,’ an international coffee competition.

The ‘Best of Thailand 2022 Cup of Excellence (COE) Pilot Program,’ which took place in Thailand for the first time this past October 5-12, is a trial competition of the full-fledged COE competition. This round allows the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) to assess the Thai specialty coffee industry’s readiness for future consideration in organizing the full-scale COE Thailand competition. The Thai coffee that won in the rankings will be introduced to coffee lovers worldwide as the ‘Best of Thailand 2022,’ and there were a total of 15 winners this year.

If you’re curious to learn about COE coffee, the competition’s agenda, or how it will influence the Thai specialty coffee industry, you’ve come to the right place. Today, Roots alongside ‘Choey-Itthiphon Sawasdipuksa,’ a coffee educator and founder of COOF, one of the judges of the competition, shares with you the exciting backstory! 


Alliance For Coffee Excellence (ACE) is a nonprofit organization that certifies COE coffee as being of the finest quality. In this complex competition, which started in 1999, coffee that has been labeled as COE coffee is assessed by both the bottom and top of the coffee chain. It passes a taste test conducted by two sets of judges, national and international, bringing in coffee enthusiasts from around the world to experience the coffee together.

Coffee that qualifies as specialty coffee must score greater than 80 points, in accordance with the cupping score used in specialty coffee competitions (coffee that scores between 60 and 80 is classified as commercial-grade coffee). On the COE stage, however, coffee that advances to the final round must score higher than 87 points, which is an extremely high standard.

COE prioritizes 3 words: Clean, Sweet, and Complex. Clean indicates the farmer’s meticulous processing, and Sweet reflects the plant’s health, including the ripeness of the coffee cherries collected for processing. The third measure is Complex, which refers to the complexity of the coffee’s flavor and aroma as a result of its unique varietals and processing techniques. There must always be these 3 elements, regardless of how the coffee ranks,” as Choey describes what the coffee competition is looking for.


According to Choey, the COE competition that chooses the best coffee from each country is comparable to a top-tier beauty pageant in its universe. A license is required, and the corporation’s regulations must be strictly adhered to hold the competition.

Only 15 countries presently host complete COE competitions due to the ACE’s strict standards. Before they can set up COE Thailand, they must first decide whether the country is prepared. For instance, are the farmers producing enough coffee? A lot of coffee needs between 300 – 500 kg to be a complete COE. Can the organizer handle a large number of coffee samples, and is there enough funding? The previous competition was a Pilot Program or trial round that adhered to COE protocols for this reason. If the primary judge, also from ACE, is pleased, there may be a full COE Thailand event the following year.

Following the announcement of the results, the best coffees from each country will be presented and distributed to roasters all around the world at the ACE auction.


Everyone’s collaboration is required for the COE to take place. The long-standing competition we have had, like the SCATH (Thai Specialty Coffee Association) competition, has done a good job of laying the groundwork for us. It paves the way for our continued collective progress and prepares us for such events. Farmers will know what to do to prepare for the competition and what has to be developed to produce the outcomes the competition is seeking. On the business side, judges or organizers will also enhance their knowledge.

Even though this year we won’t see any Thai specialty coffees labeled as ‘COE Coffee,’ all 15 Thai coffees that won the Best of Thailand 2022 are brought to the ACE auction along with COE coffee.


I want to encourage everyone to view it from the perspective that the coffee ranked as COE is unique in its own way. It’s not a win-or-lose situation if your coffee isn’t labeled as COE, as it’s just the result of the competition. The COE-awarded coffees will be a great guide for those who drink coffee to learn more about Thai specialty coffee. You’ll learn what makes each coffee special and what differentiates them,” says Choey.

Roots collaborates with 5 farmers who made the Top 15 Best of Thailand 2022: Chang Pao, Sanchai, Aten, Kaleb, and Sanchai. Let’s give them all a round of applause!

Photo courtesy of Best of Thailand 2022 Cup of Excellence Pilot Program


Thank you for subscribe

Thank you! We'll be in touch.