Buying a ton of coffee... Literally a ton of coffee, now, in the wide world of this industry its actually not that impressive, in fact its quite unusual. However, this is our first ton of coffee from one location, directly from the producer, paid up front and in full. Its hard to quantify buying so much of one coffee, will our customers love it? Will the coffee still taste amazing after its long journey? Will it arrive at all?
Building a sustainable chain of partners, we have found, is the only way to go. When originally looking at bringing this coffee back to the sunny shores of the UK we looked at sticking them on pallets, in boxes, what ever we could, but again and again it looked like the only solution was to send it via container. Trying to get this sorted five and a half thousand miles away was proving difficult and we just couldn't seem to make it a reality. But then one day, I spoke with 2 gents by the name of Steve Hall and Matt Graylee from Raw Materials, a well known and very trusted UK coffee trader, who not only had connections in Colombia but where willing to help us out. Next thing I knew we were discussing crucial aspects of exporting such as water activity and moisture content... pure gibberish!
One huge and very complicated quality classification is defects. Now, in Colombia, most coffee is sorted within The Colombian Coffee Federation standard for Excelso, however, the biggest difference between that grading system and what we expect in the UK (SCAE) is "Bora Beatle (Broca)" or if you like, insect damage. We class most insect damage such as this as a primary defect, where as the CCFE class it as secondary. Big culture difference and a big issue when it comes to what we expect - something that I think allot of roasters, such as my self before all this take for granted.
Its been a steep learning curve. Finding, Importing and controlling the quality of coffee during this process is not easy - But completely worth it. We are very excited to have our first coffee sourced by us on its way to your cup soon. Keep an eye out as this will be very special!
- Tom Osborne