Posted by RoastMonkey on September 29, 2016
Where do we get our coffee? It's a simple question we hear often that has anything but a simple answer. We work with dozens of suppliers, some of whom source their offerings from many different countries; some who source their beans from one family-owned farm; and more often from suppliers who source coffee from just a handful of small farms.
Every week, our roasting staff samples new arrivals from these various suppliers to assess which beans we want to purchase. Like everything else in coffee, the process of sampling these prospective lots is more involved than is apparent to the casual consumer. It starts with ongoing discussions between us and our suppliers, tracking new and impending crop arrivals. Next we roast each sample, sometimes dozens a week. And finally, we assess each of the samples using an industry standard practice, called cupping, that enables us to quantify flavor profiles. As a result, we spend hours every week to source just a handful of select coffee lots.
While we are looking for beans we think our customers will enjoy in terms of flavor, we have learned to appreciate the value of knowing about the growers and workers who produce those beans. Coffee is first and foremost a natural product, one that takes a lot of time, care and knowledge to thrive. Coffee cannot thrive if the farmers and workers who care for it don't thrive as well. Knowing where our coffee comes from isn't just about reassuring ourselves that we are sourcing it ethically, but ensuring that coffee we love this year will be available again next year and the year after that and so on.