Coffee starts life as a plant that grows equatorially between the tropic of Cancer and the tropic of Capricorn. Coffee plants produce brightly colored fruit we call cherries. The coffee we roast are the two seeds from inside these cherries. There are two main species in the genus Coffea, Robusta and Arabica. For now, we stick to Arabica, which is sweeter and more complex. Arabica grows at high elevations, and the cherries ripen more sporadically. This requires that each cherry is hand-picked. Arabica originally grew wild in Ethiopia and traveled to the rest of the world through Yemen. Lately, folks have been working with untraditional species, like Liberica and Eugenioides.
Arabica coffee started to spread around the world in the mid-1700s. It originated in Africa and traveled to the rest of the world from there. Most current varieties of coffee are descended from Typica and Bourbon. In the mid-20th century, breeders began creating new cultivars to be less susceptible to weather or disease, such as coffee leaf rust. Newer low caffeine cultivars have been developed like Laurina.
Variety - class under species that identifies genetic makeup
Varietal - a term that identifies the product made from a variety
Cultivar - a word for plants created through cross-breeding
The cherries are dried in the sun with the seeds intact. Naturals are typically fragrant and sweet with pronounced fruit notes. This process requires less water, making it a sustainable processing method.
HYBRIDS (Honey, Pulped-natural, Semi-washed):
Different amounts of fruit are removed from the seed before drying. The drying process varies with different hybrids. Hybrids are sweet and juicy with gentle fruit notes and balanced acidity.
The fruit is milled from the seed. Seeds are then fermented to break down any remaining mucilage. Then they are rinsed clean and dried. Washed coffees have vibrant acidity and balanced flavors in the cup.
Producers are using exciting techniques to bring out wild flavors in coffee. Examples include anaerobic fermentation, carbonic maceration, yeast inoculation, and even adding fruit in fermentation.
The higher you go up the mountain, the more dynamic coffees tend to taste. This has a lot to do with the growing conditions as you climb the mountain. Low-grown coffees experience more heat and less cloud cover, so they ripen faster. Coffees grown at higher altitudes see cooler temperatures and more sporadic cloud coverage. This increases the time it takes for the cherries to ripen. This slower maturation leads to more complex flavors in the cup.
Scientists have identified over 900 volatile flavor compounds in coffee. So, there's a ton happening in your cup. It can be overwhelming. That's why we've added a few flavors we taste on the front of our bags. It's a simple idea of what's breakdancing on your tongue. Hopefully, they will give you an idea of what to expect and help you to pick the perfect coffee dance partner.
Farmers are the superstars of the supply chain. They are responsible for producing these tasty coffees. No one in the supply chain can make coffee better than when it leaves the farm. Those of us who follow are entrusted to honor the farmer’s efforts. Sourcing seasonally enables us to offer coffees at the peak of their potential. We taste dozens of samples before deciding to source a coffee. We believe this model celebrates the producers and establishes relationships built on trust from the farm to your cup.
Dynamic flavor is not inherent in green coffee – it's latent. We create individual roast profiles to reach the maximum potential of each coffee. Our profiles celebrate a coffee's natural character, sweetness, and body while avoiding any caustic flavors you find in dark roasts. Our goal is for you to freak out with how good a cup can taste. To that end, we don't buy or sell any coffee we're not totally bananas over :)
When we speak about the complex flavors of coffee, we often compare it to chocolate or wine. While all of these products are delicious, one thing that distinguishes coffee from the others is that the end-user is an active link in the supply chain. You’ll need a bit of know-how to unlock all of the fantastic flavors locked inside the coffee beans. That’s why we've whipped up some brew guides to help you get started. So armed with these and the info on the pro tips page, you'll soon be on the path to coffee nirvana. BREW GUIDES