MISSOULA, US – The Cup of Excellence wraps up another successful competition and auction year, giving the program sustained momentum to continue discovering and promoting the world¹s exemplary coffees as the program enters its 10th year.Nine countries: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Rwanda, Colombia, Bolivia and Brazil, hosted extensive cupping competitions in 2008, and 236 distinct lots were recognized by national and international juries as exemplary and deserving to be considered Cup of Excellence award-winning coffees. The true honours, however, belong to the farmers who produced these superlative coffees. In a country like Rwanda, where many smallholders contribute to one washing station, success means a strengthened infrastructure to continue improving quality. For many individuals and families in coffee-producing countries, recognition through the Cup of Excellence program leads to long-term relationships in the specialty coffee market. Once selected and celebrated through the competitions, the 2008 award-winners attracted over $4.2 million from enthusiastic roasters on the online auctions.The average gross value from each auction was $472,523, up from an average of $422,114 in 2007, illustrating that even with global economic changes beginning in 2008, coffee lovers worldwide see extraordinary value in Cup of Excellence award-winners and want to reward farmers for their craft, care and diligence: 2008 price premiums rose to an average of $7.05 per pound compared to an average of $6.11 in 2007.As quality-minded roasters both large and small share the mission, stories and award-winning coffees with their customers, public enthusiasm and demand continue to grow. While 2008 Cup of Excellence coffees are being enjoyed at points all around the globe: from Japan and Taiwan to the US, from all over Europe to Australia, a new year of quality discovery and appreciation is at hand.Since its beginnings in 1999, the Cup of Excellence program has hosted almost 50 quality-focused programs in nine coffee-producing countries.p1070045.JPG   The Cup of Excellence program is managed by the non-profit Alliance for Coffee Excellence, Inc. The state-of-the-art Cup of Excellence auction platform has been managed in partnership with CommoditiesOne, a leading software development firm since 2002. For more information about the Cup of Excellence program, to participate as a juror or to become a member, log onto www.cupofexcellence.org <http://www.cupofexcellence.org > (Source: Cup of Excellence)