NEW YORK, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 16: Josè Eduardo Dominicale holds up his Best of the Best Award onstage during the 2023 Ernesto Illy International Coffee Awards on November 16, 2023 at the New York Public Library in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images for illy)

The Coffee Lovers’ Choice Award, assigned by consumers, went to Guatemala’s Finca Danilandia

Brazil, with São Mateus Agropecuaria, is the country winner of the Best of the Best Award, which was presented to Josè Eduardo Dominicale during the 8th edition of the Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award.

The award, named after the visionary leader of illycaffè and the son of the company’s founder, celebrates the work that the company has been doing every day for the last 30 years, side-by-side with coffee farmers, to offer the best possible sustainable coffee. The award was presented to the winner by illycaffè Chairman Andrea Illy during an event held at the New York Public Library in New York.

The award was assigned by an independent panel of 9 experts who examined the best batches from the 2022-2023 harvest through a blind tasting of 9 coffees from the 9 finalist countries: Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Nicaragua and Rwanda. Prior to being evaluated by the panel, each batch of coffee was analysed by illycaffè’s quality control labs and rated in terms of richness and aromatic complexity, the elegance and balance of its flavour and intensity of its aroma.

Guatemala’s Finca Danilandia di Luis Arimany Mondonico won the Coffee Lovers’ Choice Award, assigned by a panel of consumers who, in the weeks prior to the event, carried out blind taste tests of the coffee samples in illy cafés in Trieste, Milan, Paris, London, Sao Paolo and New York and ranked their preferences.

“The absolute victory of the Brasilian coffee coming from regenerative agriculture – chosen blindly among the nine best coffees in the world – fills me with joy. Indeed, the history of the Ernesto Illy Award began in Brasil in 1991 and this confirms that the rewards received, by illycaffè for having transformed Brasil from a leader in quantity to a leader in quality are well-deserved,” says Andrea Illy. “After more than 25 years of never-ending and tireless work by our team of agronomists and the University of Coffee, the leap has finally happened thanks to regenerative agriculture, which we decided to develop in 2018 for the benefits it brings to the environment and everyone’s health.”

The panel that voted for the Best of the Best award included Guatemala’s professional taster Silvia Escobar; the President of Federação dos Cafeicultores do Cerrado, Brasilian Glaucio De Castro; the director of the CoffeeLab quality laboratoryIndian Sunalini Narayan Menon; chef Ricard Camarena, who has been awarded two Michelin stars and a green star for his dedication to sustainability at his Ricard Camarena Restaurant in Valencia; American chefs Carrie and Rupert Blease, who manage the Michelin-starred Lord Stanley restaurant in San Francisco; Andrea Aprea, a Michelin-starred chef with a restaurant bearing his name in Milan;  French writer and journalist Adelaide de Clermont-Tonnere, editor-in-chief of Point de Vue magazine; Inga Griese, founder and editor-in-chief of ICON, the style supplement of the German newspaper Welt Am Sonntag; Angelina Villa Clarke, a journalist contributing to prestigious English-language publications including Forbes.

“This year’s Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award winner is a rounded, wholesome, and fully bodied cup, with rich yet mellow flavors of a balance of chocolate, caramel, brown sugar, and toasted almonds on a bed of refined brightness, with a lingering finish of mild, gentle, yet harmonious sweetness. It truly represents the finest taste characteristics of its origin,” this is the Jury’s explanatory statement when indicating the winner.

Matilda De Angelis, Pat Cleveland, Coco Rocha, Candela Pelizza, Tamu Mc Pherson, Carlo Sestini, Simon and Marina Ksandr, Nick Lowry, Tesa Pesic are some of the celebrities who attended the gala event at the New York Public Library, hosted by chef and TV star Marcus Samuelsson, to celebrate the best coffee producers who work behind the unique illy blend.

The Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award is also an unmissable networking opportunity for all those involved in the coffee industry, from producers to exporters, from traders to institutional representatives. In the morning they all met at the United Nations Headquarters to attend the roundtable “How to Protect the Future of Coffee”. Alongside illycaffè Chairman Andrea Illy, speakers included Vanusia Nogueira (International Coffee Organization’s Executive Director), Jeffrey Sachs (economist and co-chair at the Regenerative Society Foundation), Oscar Schaps (President of the Latina America division of Trading Stone X Financial Inc.) e Glaucio de Castro (President of the Federação dos Cafeicultores do Cerrado Mineiro).

illycaffè is an Italian family-owned company, founded in Trieste in 1933 which has always set itself the mission of offering the best coffee to the world. It produces a unique 100% Arabica blend composed of 9 different ingredients. The company selects only 1% of the best Arabica beans in the world. Every day 8 million cups of illy coffee are served in over 140 countries around the globe, in the cafés, restaurants and hotels, in single-brand cafés and shops, at home and in the office, in which the company is present through subsidiaries and distributors. Since its foundation, illycaffè has oriented its strategies towards a sustainable business model, commitment that it strengthened in 2019 by adopting the status of Benefit Company and in 2021 becoming the first Italian coffee company to obtain the international B Corp certification. Since 2013 the company is also one of the World Most Ethical Companies. Everything that is “made in illy” is about beauty and art, the founding principles of the brand, starting from its logo, designed by artist James Rosenquist, up to illy Art Collection cups, decorated by over 125 international artists, or coffee machines designed by internationally renowned designers. With the aim of spreading the culture of quality to growers, baristas and coffee lovers, the company has developed its Università del Caffè which today holds courses in 25 countries around the world. In 2021, Rhône Capital became a minority shareholder of illycaffè with the aim of contributing to the company’s international growth plans. In 2022, the company had 1230 employees and a turnover of €567,7 million. The illy single-brand network has 190 points of sale in 34 countries.

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