Sholi Cupping Competition 2024

By Andrea Otte
February 28, 2024

Sholi Cupping Competition 2024

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Pictured: Winners of the 2024 Sholi Caravan Cupping Competition

Our latest release is one of our most exciting of the year – the winner of the third annual Sholi Cupping Competition. We began the competition with Sholi in 2021, as a way to incentivise and reward Sholi’s farmer-members who were producing the best coffees of the season. Last year’s harvest wrapped up in August, with our team receiving the selection of finalists by post in early September. Though we were not able to conduct the competition in person this time around, we were visited by Aimable Nshimiye, Sholi’s General Manager, at our roastery in London just a few weeks after, where we cupped through the winning selection with members of staff and several of our wholesale customers.  

As with previous years, in this year’s competition we looked for exceptional and unique flavours in our ten finalists, with cleanliness, acidity, and sweetness all needing to perform in harmony in order to elevate the winning profile. Rwandan coffee, particularly natural ones such as these, display origin characteristics of ripe red fruit, black tea, sweet citrus, and milk chocolate. We look for these flavours as well as additional positive attributes in areas such as texture and aftertaste in order to select the Top Lot.

Pictured: Some jokes about the goats, one of the prizes for the winning lot

 The prize for this competition, as in years past, is two-fold. All 80 of this year’s winning farmers received a higher price for their coffee in the form of an additional cash premium on the second payment stage, which takes place at the end of each harvest. Additionally, and more unusually, each farmer also received a goat, a reward that was requested by the cooperative themselves from the first year. The competition – and the goats – have been well received among Sholi’s 750 members, which the cooperative staff says is helping to encourage excellent on-farm agricultural practices and investment into member’s farms.  

Our Head of Coffee, Andrea, was able to attend this year’s awards ceremony in Rwanda this January, where the winning farmers came to receive their prizes and hear about what made their coffee special. The day started with presentation from Aimable, who discussed the impact that the farmers have on the global recognition of the cooperative. Afterward, the coop’s president, Marthe Mukakarangwa, presented the winning trophy from another recent coffee competition in which Sholi took 1st place, and the speeches ended with one from Andrea thanking the farmers for the success of Sholi’s coffees within the Caravan offer, which includes the Top Lot as well as components in our Market and No Boundaries Blends.  

Pictured: Winners with their prizes

The best of the best coffees at Sholi are selected from the very ripest cherries delivered to the coop’s two washing stations during the peak of harvest. Coffees are typically delivered on the back of a motorbike, as the general lack of larger vehicles combined with the area’s treacherous roads makes this method the most logical. Sholi hires more than a hundred sorters, almost entirely young women, during the peak of harvest who work to remove impurities from both the whole cherries as well as from the drying coffee. Meticulous sorting, as well as carefully controlling and monitoring each processing stage, allows Sholi to capture the maximum amount of quality from each farmer’s coffee.  

This competition was made possible by working with, and listening to, our in-country partners who grow our coffee. It is a celebration of their success, and an example of how great taste can also have great impact - we hope you enjoy it as much as we do.   

Pictured: View near Sholi Cooperative