It’s a common question and can sometimes be frustrating.
You find a hand roasted coffee that you know and love and then, the next minute, it’s gone, and you can’t buy it anymore.
We do have to change our coffees from time to time. The small farms and single estates that we purchase coffee from only produce so much per harvest, and so, when it’s all been picked, processed and sold, it’s all gone. We could go back to the farm at their next harvesting season; however, that doesn’t mean that we would get the same coffee. Things like the climate can affect how the coffee has grown and therefore how it tastes; or the farmer might decide to process his coffee differently this year or, someone else might have purchased all of the coffee first.
When we source green coffee, we always aim to source enough to last us around 8 to 10 months. This length of time means that the coffee is still fresh in its green state, and, if you find a coffee you enjoy, hopefully, you can order more of it for a time before it runs out.
However, when it does run out, all is not lost. We try where possible to replace with something similar to the last. This new coffee is usually from the same origin, or where this is not possible, an origin close by, but always with similar tasting notes, flavours and finished roast style.
We thought we’d share with you how we find, decide and choose our lastest hand roasted coffee.
When it’s time for a change, how do we choose a new coffee?
We try, wherever possible to find a replacement for our coffee which is from either the same origin or one close by. For example, our current Ethiopian coffee will soon be coming to an end, and we have sourced its replacement from Rwanda; so, still within the African borders.
Every single farm and region often have their own microclimate. With this in mind, although coffee produced from farm to farm within the same origin will change in taste, often there is a general set of characteristics that an area is known for. For example; African coffees are usually fruity and acidic, while over in Brazil, due to the low altitude for coffee growing, most coffees will be smooth, nutty and chocolatey with very little or no acidity.
Our African coffee is ideal for if you love a light and fruity morning roast. This coffee is usually a naturally processed coffee. The reason for this is that naturally processed coffees are often fruiter and funkier than washed processed coffees. Let me explain.
Naturally processed coffees are left to dry with their fruity outer still intact. While drying, some of the fruitiness from the coffee cherry becomes impregnated in the bean. A washed processed coffee, on the other hand, will be de-pulped to remove this fruity layer before drying. Most African coffees are naturally processed as water is usually needed for nutrition rather than washing coffee. So sometimes, water availability determines the process method, rather than it being of the farmers choosing.
We work alongside importers who work directly with the farms and washing stations. Our importers will provide us with a current offer sheet for new coffees. They will tell us information about the coffee, the farm and the processing method. We are also informed of the tasting notes that were determined when the coffee was tasted at origin. This information allows us to choose a range of coffees and then request smaller samples so we can try them for ourselves.
When the samples arrive, we use a tasting ritual known as coffee cupping to taste the differences between them. Cupping is a coffee tasting process which allows you to taste brewed coffee in a fair and simple form. Check out our guide on cupping like a pro to find out more and give it a go at home.
We taste the coffees without knowing which is which to ensure that farms, scores, tasting and price do not affect our final decision. We also make sure that there is a few of the team tasting to gather a broader and more even opinion.
After cupping, we reserve our stock and either collect or arrange delivery of our first order.
After building our roast profile, we write up the tasting notes to go online and on the packaging. We put together the information about the farm, where the coffee has come from, and it’s story from farm to cup. This then just leaves choosing a name :-).
So, hopefully, this helps to answer why our coffees change from time to time. Ready for coffee?