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The coffee Supply Chain

The story of coffee begins long before it reaches our cup. It begins with a farmer’s dream and is brought to life through a process steeped in culture across countries all over the globe. The men and women along the supply chain each play a pivotal part in cultivating and preparing the bean that we get to enjoy as a cup of coffee. We’re eager to share and grateful to participate in this story as coffee roasters.

1.

Farmed

Harvested annually, coffee begins on a farm as a cherry from a coffee tree.

With over 60 different major varietals (breeds) of coffee trees growing around the world, farmers nurture and cultivate their specific coffee trees with an intentionality specific to the bean they’re producing. After waiting 3-4 years for a tree to mature, each tree typically produces 1-2lbs of coffee per year, making the coffee cherries produced a precious commodity. Farms range in size from small family farms, and co-ops, to larger integrated estate farms that also manage processing.

1.

Farmed

Harvested annually, coffee begins on a farm as a cherry from a coffee tree.

With over 60 different major varietals (breeds) of coffee trees growing around the world, farmers nurture and cultivate their specific coffee trees with an intentionality specific to the bean they’re producing. After waiting 3-4 years for a tree to mature, each tree typically produces 1-2lbs of coffee per year, making the coffee cherries produced a precious commodity. Farms range in size from small family farms, and co-ops, to larger integrated estate farms that also manage processing.

2.

Fermented

The methods of fermentation, natural, washed and honey, have a distinct history, flavor and process.

The cherry is sorted and processed using one of the fermentation methods in preparation for the first drying. Most countries have cultural ways to process coffee handed down from past generations so methods vary from region to region and play a significant role in the overall flavor of the coffee itself. Farmers float the cherries in tanks of water in order to separate cherries with defects out from the batch, and the good cherries that sink will either be washed or sent straight to the first stage of drying, allowing natural sugars to soak into the bean.

2.

Fermented

The methods of fermentation, natural, washed and honey, have a distinct history, flavor and process.

The cherry is sorted and processed using one of the fermentation methods in preparation for the first drying. Most countries have cultural ways to process coffee handed down from past generations so methods vary from region to region and play a significant role in the overall flavor of the coffee itself. Farmers float the cherries in tanks of water in order to separate cherries with defects out from the batch, and the good cherries that sink will either be washed or sent straight to the first stage of drying, allowing natural sugars to soak into the bean.

3.

Dried

Drying stabilizes the moisture level, preserving flavor and preparing the bean for transportation and roasting.

The farmers and processors pre-dry the bean on shaded tables to slow down the drying process for the first two days, helping protect the flavor and integrity of the bean. Pre-drying plays an important part in stabilizing the bean for longer periods of time. It also helps ensure a consistent bean appearance which allows for effective hand sorting. After pre-drying, the coffee is moved to full sun, and workers diligently tend to the bean to prevent over drying or scorching from the sun in the full drying process.

3.

Dried

Drying stabilizes the moisture level, preserving flavor and preparing the bean for transportation and roasting.

The farmers and processors pre-dry the bean on shaded tables to slow down the drying process for the first two days, helping protect the flavor and integrity of the bean. Pre-drying plays an important part in stabilizing the bean for longer periods of time. It also helps ensure a consistent bean appearance which allows for effective hand sorting. After pre-drying, the coffee is moved to full sun, and workers diligently tend to the bean to prevent over drying or scorching from the sun in the full drying process.

4.

Husked

The cherry turns to bean as the outer skin and surrounding inner parchment are peeled off.

Depending on how the variety of coffee was fermented, the bean is dried and becomes ready for any remaining outer cherry pulp, mucilage or parchment to be removed, producing a raw green coffee bean. Through a variety of cleaning and sorting methods, anything that isn’t the raw bean is removed before the final hand sorting process. Husking prepares the bean for shipment and provides a final check for inconsistencies and defects.

4.

Husked

The cherry turns to bean as the outer skin and surrounding inner parchment are peeled off.

Depending on how the variety of coffee was fermented, the bean is dried and becomes ready for any remaining outer cherry pulp, mucilage or parchment to be removed, producing a raw green coffee bean. Through a variety of cleaning and sorting methods, anything that isn’t the raw bean is removed before the final hand sorting process. Husking prepares the bean for shipment and provides a final check for inconsistencies and defects.

5.

Packed

After being dry milled and hand sorted, the bean is bagged and processed for shipment.

In each country, the governing coffee authorities have a process that farmers use to grade and certify each coffee before it leaves the country. Once bagged, most “specialty” coffee is packed in burlap bags with a plastic, liner bag that seals and protects the green coffee from any damage as it travels. Each bag of coffee is also marked for traceability back to the country of origin should there be a problem during transit. A full container coffee shipment often totals around 40,000 lbs.

5.

Packed

After being dry milled and hand sorted, the bean is bagged and processed for shipment.

In each country, the governing coffee authorities have a process that farmers use to grade and certify each coffee before it leaves the country. Once bagged, most “specialty” coffee is packed in burlap bags with a plastic, liner bag that seals and protects the green coffee from any damage as it travels. Each bag of coffee is also marked for traceability back to the country of origin should there be a problem during transit. A full container coffee shipment often totals around 40,000 lbs.

6.

Shipped

Fully processed and packed coffee is shipped via sea freight to the country of destination.

The shipping process requires strategy, timing and involved planning as farmers and exporters are considering trade routes while also ensuring the coffee’s freshness. For landlocked countries, the packed coffee must first travel by truck to the port where it will be shipped. After years of cultivation and months of processing the bean, the farmer’s livelihood makes its way to sea, headed toward the destined port of entry where samples will be checked upon arrival and the coffee will remain stored in a coffee warehouse to stay fresh until the roaster picks it up.

6.

Shipped

Fully processed and packed coffee is shipped via sea freight to the country of destination.

The shipping process requires strategy, timing and involved planning as farmers and exporters are considering trade routes while also ensuring the coffee’s freshness. For landlocked countries, the packed coffee must first travel by truck to the port where it will be shipped. After years of cultivation and months of processing the bean, the farmer’s livelihood makes its way to sea, headed toward the destined port of entry where samples will be checked upon arrival and the coffee will remain stored in a coffee warehouse to stay fresh until the roaster picks it up.

7.

Roasted

Roasters of all shapes and sizes cook the raw coffee beans, altering the flavor profile.

Coffee roasting is a simple concept, but complex to execute well. After picking up or receiving the shipped coffee from the country of origin, roasters choose a method to cook the raw coffee bean with the goal of making it brittle, consumable and flavorful. The specific way heat is applied to the bean during the roasting process produces a series of chemical reactions that affect flavor in the final coffee taste. Making coffee drinkable is the easy part, but keeping it flavorful and consistent is the challenge.

7.

Roasted

Roasters of all shapes and sizes cook the raw coffee beans, altering the flavor profile.

Coffee roasting is a simple concept, but complex to execute well. After picking up or receiving the shipped coffee from the country of origin, roasters choose a method to cook the raw coffee bean with the goal of making it brittle, consumable and flavorful. The specific way heat is applied to the bean during the roasting process produces a series of chemical reactions that affect flavor in the final coffee taste. Making coffee drinkable is the easy part, but keeping it flavorful and consistent is the challenge.

8.

Brewed

Brewing uses roasted ground coffee, temperature and water to create a delicious, drinkable beverage.

Much like the nuance found from coffee to coffee, there are a variety of brewing methods across the world. These are a reflection of coffee’s diversity and an invitation to experiment, explore and express your tastes and experiences through coffee. Each brewing method has strengths and weaknesses, along with a unique set of best practices. Water temperature, measurements and soaking time all play a large part (in addition to grounds used) in the strength and flavor of the final drink.

8.

Brewed

Brewing uses roasted ground coffee, temperature and water to create a delicious, drinkable beverage.

Much like the nuance found from coffee to coffee, there are a variety of brewing methods across the world. These are a reflection of coffee’s diversity and an invitation to experiment, explore and express your tastes and experiences through coffee. Each brewing method has strengths and weaknesses, along with a unique set of best practices. Water temperature, measurements and soaking time all play a large part (in addition to grounds used) in the strength and flavor of the final drink.

9.

Enjoyed

Consumed daily, coffee ends as a beverage enjoyed by people all over the world.

Whether at home or in your favorite local coffee shop, this is where the processed coffee beans are finally enjoyed as a cup of coffee. At this point, you’re tethered to the men and women who tended the coffee trees and took care to make sure the beans were picked, processed, packed, shipped, roasted and brewed with intentionality. We’re hopeful that having a deeper grasp of the supply chain will now inform and inspire you to appreciate and enjoy coffee all the more. Get started today.

9.

Enjoyed

Consumed daily, coffee ends as a beverage enjoyed by people all over the world.

Whether at home or in your favorite local coffee shop, this is where the processed coffee beans are finally enjoyed as a cup of coffee. At this point, you’re tethered to the men and women who tended the coffee trees and took care to make sure the beans were picked, processed, packed, shipped, roasted and brewed with intentionality. We’re hopeful that having a deeper grasp of the supply chain will now inform and inspire you to appreciate and enjoy coffee all the more. Get started today.

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