After a series of blind tastings, coffee beans grown in Rwanda were crowned the “Best of the Best” by a jury of top culinary and coffee experts at the third annual Ernesto Illy International Coffee Awards. The honor was presented to Philotée Muzika, who accepted on behalf of Ngororero Coffee Washing Station; her acceptance of the award is fitting, considering women are responsible for nearly half the world’s coffee production.
In choosing the “Best of the Best,” the panel judged beans from nine countries (Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, India, Nicaragua and Rwanda) based on their aromatic richness and complexity, balance and elegance, and aroma intensity and strength.
The jury was comprised of: “Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How it Transformed Our World” author Mark Pendergast, Wine Spectator features writer Owen Dugan, Locanda Margon executive chef Alfio Ghezzi, Specialty Coffee Association chief research officer Peter Giuliano, CoffeeTalk Media owner Kerri Goodman, L’Argine a Vencó restaurateur Antonia Klugmann, “Asia’s first lady of coffee” Sunalini Menon, Reale in Castel di Sangro chef Niko Romito, Saveur editor-in-chief Adam Sachs and Honduras coffee producer Ernerso Velasquez.
"It is an honor and a pleasure to recognize Ngororero Coffee Washing Station and Ms. Muzika for their achievement, and that of all of our finalists, who are focused on producing the highest-quality coffee through sustainable methods," Illycaffè chairman Andrea Illy said in a statement. "This week celebrates an even greater theme, and that is the enormous dedication, pride and talent of the world's 25 million coffee-growing families, who fill our cups, and replenish our souls, every day."
Illycaffè, also known simply as Illy, is an espresso-forward Italian coffee chain with flagship locations in Kuala Lumpur, London, Milan, Paris and San Francisco. You may have had a cup of Illy joe in a café, restaurant, hotel or airplane. The caffeine purveyor also makes pre-packaged whole bean and ground coffee by the bag, capsule or pod. With any luck, maybe you'll be finding it soon at the best coffee shop in your state.