Selecting the coffees is a process that is full of excitement. Searching for coffees to add to our offerings is an adventure, and each time we eagerly anticipate what we might find. What starts out as a process with almost limitless possibilities will be complete when we’ve found the few selections that will excel in our roast profiles.
Starting Out With the Crop Calendar
We begin our adventure by looking at a coffee crop calendar to see what selections will soon be available. At this point, each country that will have lots available represents a possibility. Sure, we know what characteristics to expect from any given country’s coffee, but there are always crops that surprise, delight, and amaze us. What will each of these countries offer this time around? We can’t wait to find out.
Talking to Our Importers
We know a guy. You might call him an importer, and there actually is more than one. They aren’t all guys, in fact. But we like to think of it as, “we know a guy.” With a few origins in mind that we’d like to source coffee from, we talk to our guy (and gal).
Our importers will let us know what coffees they have coming in from each of the countries we expressed interest in. They’ll send us the low-down on each crop, and we’ll take a look at the descriptions, profiles, and their cupping notes. We also look at the prices, of course.
We’ll request samples of the coffees that interest us. Some of these samples will disappoint us, but others will amaze us. We’ve seen the notes for each, but we never really know what to expect from a coffee until we have a sample.
The samples we receive are 200 to 250 gram packages of green beans. For those of us who didn’t grow up using the metric system, the English equivalent is small — really small. There are just enough beans for us to roast one tiny batch. No pressure, right?
Once the samples are sample roasted, we cup them. Cupping is a solemn ritual. First, we each take the coffees in silently, cupping them on our own. It’s just us, individually, and the coffee. We contemplate each discovery we make, privately and in silence.
After we’ve cupped everything individually and have formulated our personal thoughts, we come together and discuss each coffee. Quickly, the room fills with chatter, as we all excitedly share our observations and notes on each coffee. Everyone speaks up and has a voice, because we’ve all gone on this journey together.
Finally, we have reached the end of our adventure. We have narrowed down numerous offerings to just a few coffees that we will order. With sometimes lively discussions, we come to a consensus on which selections will best fit our roast profiles. We then commit to ordering them and await their arrival, because the best part of this journey is sharing our discovery with our customers.