A couple weeks ago, our roaster Quinn continued his roaster certification process in Tulsa taking the next level of classes. Over the next few weeks, we’ll share some of the highlights from the classes he took. We’ll start this week off talking about coffee farming and the supply chain which is so complex!
One of the things that is most fascinating to us as a company is the supply chain of coffee. It’s easy in the U.S. to think of coffee as just buying roasted beans and preparing them, or maybe the roasting, buying, and preparing chain. The reality is that from seed to cup, the coffee seed passes through so many hands and is exposed to so many situations where things could go wrong as it makes it’s journey to your morning cup of coffee. It’s so complex!
Coffee trees are quite finicky and susceptible to different diseases based on region and varietal. With careful nurturing, farmers are able to grow the coffee seeds and hand-select to harvest them at peak ripeness. From there the seeds are processed. The processing method varies based on region, processing facilities available, water supply, and so on. After processing and bagging, then you start the export and import process which has it’s own complexities. The coffee seed is quite susceptible to it’s environment and can easily absorb flavors of it’s surroundings- think of coffee bags stored next to petroleum on a ship- yuck! From importing you then have roasters who select which coffees to purchase, roast for optimal flavor and preferences, and bag for consumers or distributors before they ever hit the shelves or your local coffee shop.
When thinking about that entire process and how each step is so vulnerable for the coffee, it’s really amazing that coffee isn’t $30-40 a bag! As specialty coffee roasters, we really care about this process. At Peritus too, it’s really important to us that the farmers are paid well. Most of our coffees are a part of the Farm Gate Program which goes above and beyond Fair Trade.