A Whole Microlot Of Love

Welcome To My Imaginary Farm

Let’s head to our imaginary coffee farm somewhere in the coffee belt. Rolling green hills, high altitude, plenty of sunshine. It’s not a big farm, but there’s still a fair amount of variation in the terroir (all the things that affect the growing of coffee – soil, topography, climate, etc.). The coffee we grow here is of course amazing, but there’s one part of the farm that’s really, really special – the top field. The coffee grown there just hits different. Maybe it’s the extra altitude; maybe it’s the slightly cooler temperatures or the different balance of minerals in the soil. Whatever the reason, it grows amazing coffee. Now, we could just harvest it, mix it in with the other great coffee beans from the rest of our farm, and call it quits. But instead, we could use it to produce a microlot.

As special as it is, the top field is not that big, so we’re only going to get a few sacks of coffee from it – hence micro. But the coffee’s uniqueness is worth preserving – worth it for the farmer as it can be more valuable, and worth it for the roaster who gets access to amazing one-of-a-kind coffee. This is what roasters like us mean when we refer to a microlot. A small batch of exceptional coffee kept separate from the rest of a farm’s output. But it’s not just about special one-off fields. It can be about special processing too.

 

farmer on coffee farm in brazil growing what could be a microlot

It’s A Process

At its heart, coffee processing is about removing the fleshy part of the coffee cherry (yes cherry) revealing the seed (or bean as we know it). There are several coffee processing methods, and what happens to the flavour of your coffee as a result varies. If you want to know more about processing, including what delicious-sounding honey process coffee is, head to this handy TC blog on the subject.

Whilst most growers choose a process likely to produce the fewest defects – a speciality term meaning a bean that has developed a bad flavour – an increasing number of producers use processing in an experimental way to enhance or otherwise change the flavour of the coffee. This is where microlots come back in. So, back to our imaginary farm.

Aside from the microlot grown in the top field, we’ve got a few tonnes of tasty coffee. But what if we could make it even tastier? Let’s separate 500kg and put it through a different process to the rest, perhaps add in a magic starter culture like the one used by the Sampieri and Zilli families in our limited edition Autumn The Fourth coffee. Now we’ve got another microlot, and if we’ve done it right, a fantastic coffee, just like Autumn The Fourth.

coffee farmer showing microlot coffee drying on raised bed in brazil

Traceability

We should also quickly mention the traceability of the coffee. Speciality coffee people are pretty keen on traceability – knowing where a coffee came from, where it was processed, shipped, landed, roasted – the whole chain from field to cup. It lets us know we’re sourcing ethical, sustainable coffee, and the people who grow it are getting paid properly. This is true with a microlot but turned up to 11. You can often google map the exact field the lot came from!

sacks of rwandan coffee

Micro mills too!?

Although not strictly a microlot, it’s worth mentioning micro mills, as they can have a similar effect – keeping special coffee special. It’s a pretty simple idea – rather than sending your coffee to a big, industrial mill to get processed with coffee from a load of other farms, some speciality growers and co-operatives are buying and building their own small-scale milling facilities. Seizing the means of coffee production (oh hi Karl) allows growers to mill in smaller batches and maintain the unique characteristics of particular coffees rather than blending this distinctness away.

As an added bonus, green coffee sells for more than coffee cherries, meaning more money for our fabulous speciality coffee-growing friends. It’s absolutely a win-win!

Coffee-next-day-delivery

Microlots and lots and lots

Microlots are great for a few reasons. Firstly, buying microlots rewards excellence in coffee growing. Farmers can charge a premium, and because of the way speciality coffee culture operates, most of that premium makes its way back to the farmers, encouraging them to keep growing awesome coffees.

Secondly, it allows experimentation. Sure, there are risks involved in trying an unusual processing technique. But with a microlot, even if it just makes the coffee different rather than better, the farmer doesn’t lose out. Plus, freaky coffee is fun! In the long run, this means everyone wins as we all learn more about the effects of new processes and how they can be used to enhance or change the coffee in our cups.

washed and natural process microlot coffee beans laying out on the ground

Must-Try Microlots

Finally, microlots are awesome because lucky people like us chimps get to drink some bona fide banging brews (and show off our fancy coffee to our friends…).

Speaking of which, if all this talk of microlots has got you in the mood, I have good news for you! Not only can you head to our website and grab a bag of Autumn The fourth microlot coffee to try, but soon you’ll be able to get your hands on our Must-Try range! The Must-Try range is a series of super limited-edition microlot coffees from around the world, all meeting the Two Chimps ethical and environmental standards and hand-roasted at our carbon-neutral, climate positive roastery here in Rutland. But remember, keep your eyes peeled for their arrival. These microlots are small; once they’re gone, they’re gone!

 

Happy Brewing!

Two Chimps

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