Inaugural Lao People’s Democratic Republic Green Coffee Competition Result: Lao PDR coffees score high, intrigue judges

Coffee Quality Institute is pleased to share the winning coffees of the 2021 Laos Coffee Competition. This event was the first of its kind to take place in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and is part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funded Creating Linkages for Expanded Agricultural Networks (CLEAN) Project implemented by Winrock International that is working to improve the agricultural sector with the Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and the Lao Department of Agriculture (DOA). The competition was also supported by L ‘Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the Swiss Development and Cooperation (SDC).

Coffee Quality Institute organizes competitions to create excitement about emerging markets and has seen success with these events in the past.

“I was amazed and intrigued by the range of flavors presented within these Coffees from Laos. Additionally, they consistently presented a level of quality I had not associated with this growing region,” offered Aaron Alvis, supervisor in Global Coffee Quality at Starbucks. “Aromas of baking cinnamon, wine, red fruit, cardamom and brown sugar accompanied flavor notes including florals, tobacco, honey, elegant grapefruit and vanilla. This was a truly special sensory experience, and I am grateful for the opportunity to access and share my experience with these Coffees.”

The top 5 winners include coffees produced by Jing Jhai Coffee Coop, Dao Coffee Factory and Bolaven Farms. Jing Jhai Coffee Coop won top marks in the Best Washed Arabic, Best Honey Arabica and Best Natural Arabica categories, and Bolaven Farms was recognized for their top Robusta entry.

Category                        Score       Name
Best Washed                    84.38      Jing Jhai Coffee Coop
Best Honey                      84.85       Jing Jhai Coffee Coop
Best Natural                     85.35      Jing Jhai Coffee Coop
Best Arabica                     85.35      Jing Jhai Coffee Coop
Best Robusta                   84.31      Bolaven Farms
Top 5:

  1.                      85.35      Jing Jhai Coffee Coop
  2.                      84.9         Dao Coffee Factory
  3.                      84.85      Jing Jhai Coffee Coop
  4.                      84.38      Jing Jhai Coffee Coop
  5.                      84.31      Bolaven Farms


“Lao Robusta Farmers are celebrating, for their Fine Robusta has been validated by international judges,” said Sam Say of Bolaven Farms Proceso Puro Circular Coffees.

The cupping panel for this event was comprised of international judges from the USA and Switzerland. CQI worked with local authorities to transfer the coffees to the USA where they were carefully roasted and sent to judges with water treatments and instructions. The judges received the samples “blind,” and returned results to CQI for compilation.

“Best practices for a coffee competition would be for the evaluations to take place locally,” said Todd Arnette, manager of CQI’s Quality Evaluation Program. “As is the case with countless other activities, COVID had a different plan. To ensure a consistent and unbiased evaluation the following steps were taken.

  • -A secure collection location and process was used in Laos.
  • -Upon receipt by the head judge all samples were evaluated with the SCA Arabica Green Grade Defect Guide and the CQI Robusta Green Grade Defect Standards.
  • -The samples were all roasted to their respective Sample Roast Protocol for Arabica or Robusta and cupped by the head judge for an initial assessment of Specialty Arabica or Fine Robusta status.
  • -A larger volume of samples was roasted and packaged for shipment to the judges
  • -The head judge received the same coffees as the judge’s panels.
  • -A grind particle size sample, a water specification and a cupping protocol were included


“As best as was reasonably possible,” Arnette continued, “all judges had the same coffees and cupping infrastructure resulting in a fair and consistent evaluation of the Lao Coffees. All cupping scores were entered into the CQI Q Grader Calibration Matrix for statistical analysis.”

The purpose of a green coffee competition is to prompt interest and make market connections, and that is already starting to happen through judges who have had the chance to taste these Lao PDR coffees.

“What better testimony of quality is there,” asked judge Mané Alves

“Than a cupper’s desire to buy a quality coffee and serve it to their customers?”

People interested in acquiring coffee from these winning producers can contact Alex Dahan, Chief of Party for Winrock in Laos at for further information.