Cup of Excellence season is in full swing. As a follow-up to yesterday’s El Salvador Cup of Excellence post, today’s International Herald Tribune published a business article on the economics of Cup of Excellence coffee: A trickle-down approach benefits coffee growers – Business – International Herald Tribune.

This article starts with Nicaragua’s 2006 Cup of Excellence coffee competition and Geoff Watts, coffee buyer for Intelligentsia Coffee. Intelligentsia founder and chief executive, Doug Zell, invests some $150,000 to $200,000 annually to send Watts on the road seven months each year to reach out to elite coffee growers around the world. For businesses like Intelligentsia, the payoff is in offering a supply of some of the world’s best coffees to consumers who know the difference and will pay for it. For growers, the payoff is in earning a premium for their crops over and above the prices Fair Trade offers.

UPDATE: June-22-2006:
The New York Times published a version of this story in today’s paper: A Coffee Connoisseur on a Mission: Buy High and Sell High – New York Times