The 10 Best Specialty Coffees in America (2022)

mexican q grader

To learn more about the specialty coffee world, you should know that each coffee-producing country has an annual contest to reward the best coffee harvested.

This is an invitation to all the producers in the country to send a sample of their best lots to be evaluated by professional coffee tasters called Q graders and thus choose a winner.

The name of this competition is “The Cup of Excellence,” the most prestigious competition in the specialty coffee sector.

The Alliance for coffee excellence invites coffee farmers to participate with each country's specialty coffee associations.

Primary Objectives of Coffee Competitions:

  • Identify the best coffee in the country.
  • Support and motivate contestants to sell their coffees at a better price to international buyers through auctions.
  • To seek support from the government and organizations that support the development of the countryside
  • To better train coffee farmers to improve the quality of their coffees in a consistent manner
  • Coffee traceability

The prestige of participating in this competition has a significant impact on the worldwide promotion of the best specialty coffees.

There is also a call to select the group of roasters and tasters to evaluate the coffee samples.

International judges are also invited to make the competition fairer, meaning the best roasters and Q graders choose the winners.


q graders and roasters from mexico

Nico Martinez & Pedro Flores Judges and Roasters

We must remember that countries with the appropriate climatic conditions to produce coffee are generally between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, popularly called "The Coffee Belt."

world map with tropics


This list includes only producing countries of the Americas, sorted from highest to lowest score.

Top 10 of the best specialty coffees in America:

1st place

Mexico | 93 points

Cruz Jose Arguello Enriquez

Finca Santa Cruz, La Concordia Chiapas

Natural, Geisha Variety

2nd place

El Salvador | 91.82 points

Choucri, S.A. de C.V.

El Conacaste, Alotepec Metapan

Natural, Gesha Variety

3rd place

Guatemala | 91.75 points

Jose Roberto Monterroso Pineda

El morito, Jalapa

Washed, Gesha Variety

4th place

Brazil | 91.41 points

Antonio Rigno de Oliveira Filho

Fazenda Tijuco, Chapada Diamantina

Natural, Catuai 144 Variety

5th place

Honduras | 91.25 points

Benjamin Paz Muñoz

La Salsa, Las Vegas

Washed, Gesha Variety

6th place

Costa Rica | 91.08 points

Luis Ricardo Calderon Madrigal

Don Cayito, Los Santos

Honey, Gesha Variety

7th place

Nicaragua ] 90.76 points

Mario Jose Gonzalez Rodriguez

El Avion, Nueva Segovia

Natural, Catuai Rojo Variety

8th place

Colombia | 90.65 points

Carlos Alberto Belalcazar

La Bohemia, Nariño region

Washed, Gesha Variety

9th place

Peru | 90.39 points

Blanca Flor Cordova Jimenez

La Bola, Cajamarca region

Washed, Gesha Variety

10th place

Ecuador | 90.28 points

Familia Merino

Hacienda Lugmapata, Chimborazo region

Washed, Sydra Variety

Coffee Recognitions that are granted in Mexico

Cup of Excellence (CoE):

The winning lots are the top 30 coffees that scored above 87 by the CoE International Jury.

These coffees have each been cupped a minimum of five times during the cupping process.

National Winners:

The National Winner lots are coffees scoring 85+ points during the International Phase by the CoE National and International Jury.

Presidential Coffee:

The coffee with a score of 90 or more points.

Feminine Coffee:

The highest-scoring coffee produced by a female producer.

Biodiversity Friendly Award:

The coffee with the highest score has current organic certification.

Some Cup of Excellence Mexico Stats

  • 9 Editions between 2012 and 2022
  • 209 award-winning international producers.
  • 209 international winning lots
  • 273,000 pounds of exceptional coffee
  • 11 USD/lb Average price
  • 21.72 USD/lb. The highest average price in 2022

As you can imagine, some of these winning coffees are used by individuals to compete in other international contests such as:

  • World Barista Championship
  • World Coffee in Good Spirits
  • World Brewers Cup
  • World Cup Tasters Championship
  • World Coffee Roasting Championship
  • World Latte Art Championship
  • Cezve/Ibrik Championship

So now you know, if you go to a specialty coffee shop offering some of these winning coffees on their menu, don't hesitate to try something extraordinary that will surely surprise your palate.

And for sure, these are some of the best coffees to buy!

Photo credits and source: Amecafe Mexico,

Keep reading:

All you need to know about Mexican coffee

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