When you buy coffee from a speciality roaster you should know where it comes from. This is so important because it creates a link between the coffee drinkers and coffee producers - helping in the battle towards fairer wages and working conditions for those who work hard to produce some of these delicious speciality coffees. Our August Discovery Coffee is a great example of an exceptionally good coffee backed up with full scale traceability.
What is traceability?
Traceability (creating physical links along the supply chain so that you know where a product has come from) has always been a positive factor associated with the speciality coffee industry. Roasters pay a premium for coffee deemed speciality grade - as scored by the SCAA (Speciality Coffee Association of America) - and whether this is sourced “direct” or through speciality green coffee merchants, they will often note the specific attributes of the coffee, including location and farming practices. It’s this level of detail, along with others in the same vein as a wine’s terroir, which really differentiates speciality coffee from commercially traded coffee.
What information is important?
Principally, obtaining accurate and reliable data is key, along with having a place where this data can be shared, reviewed, analysed, and passed onto the end consumer (either directly or via the roaster). Data may include, but is not limited to:
· Accurate farm size and production data so that yield can be calculated. This can then be used as a baseline to assess the impacts of certification programs, e.g. how has a farmer training programme objective improved farmer yields by year 2, 3, 4 etc.
· Identifying and recording processes and practices that affect bean quality. This may include the type of ‘inputs’ being used (e.g. insecticides, pesticides, organic, fertilizers etc.), the quality of water used for irrigation, or the agricultural practices such as pruning, soil condition etc.
· Recording and evidence of premiums paid, which can be trickier. Origin visits can help but this isn’t sustainable on a larger scale. The improvement of technology can help increase transparency in this area but it’s the partnership of those involved (producers, exporters, roasters, retailers, consumers) that will ensure this data is credible.
Traceability for the August Discovery Coffee: Mió Microlot 1939
It has been a pleasure working directly with Ana from the Mió farm to develop a filter roasted coffee with a delicate honey dew, elderflower and passion fruit flavour profile. Here is an example of how this coffee has travelled from the farm to your cup:
LOCATION Monte Santo de Minas, Brazil
VARIETY: Bourbon and Mundo Novo
ALTITUDE 1,100 MASL (Metres Above Sea Level)
FLAVOUR Honey Dew, Elderflower, Passion Fruit, Silky
Location: Mió — Monte Santo de Minas
HAND-PICKING HARVEST Workers analyse the fruit to determine its ripeness using indicators such as colour and firmness.
NATURAL PROCESS The oldest way of processing coffee beans. The cherries go straight from the harvesting trucks to the raised beds without passing through the wet-mill sorting system. This completely dry method is considered the most eco-friendly coffee available.
DRYING IN RAISED BEDS The fruits lay on a single layer in a raised mesh that needs to be odourless and breathable, so that the coffee will dry from all sides. The still-whole coffee cherry will reach a moisture content between 10% and 12% in a few weeks before being transferred to rest.
REST IN BAGS FOR 30 TO 60 DAYS Microlots are coffees harvested and processed on a small scale. Regular lots at Mió rest in silos, while the microlots rest in 60kg bags made out of raffia. Resting is needed to stabilise all chemical activities that are happening inside the beans.
CROSS-BEATER HULLERS The best hulling system for specialty coffee. It doesn't create unnecessary friction between the beans, preventing them from heating up throughout the process. It also doesn't polish the beans, keeping them protected with the silver skin on until roasting.
OSCILLATING SCREEN GRADER This process removes unwanted material and fragments of parchment from the beans. It also separates coffee by its size using a system of decreasing screening plates.
DENSITY SEPARATION These machines use gravity to separate heavy beans from lighter beans and impurities. It combines a vibrating surface with jets of air, separating the better quality, heavier beans that sink to the bottom.
Location: Peneira Alta — São Sebastião do Paraíso
OPTICAL ELECTRONIC SORTING Utilises sensors and image processing systems. These machines can recognise coffees by colour, size, shape, structural properties, and chemical composition. It allows the coffee to be precisely sorted.
LOADING Once the coffee is ready to ship, it is packed in 30kg Jutex® bags filled with GrainPro® (both technologies are responsible for keeping the coffee as fresh as possible to Chimney Fire Coffee) and sent to the UK in 20ft containers.
SHIPPING The coffee is shipped from the Porto de Santos in Brazil to the Felixstowe Port in the UK.
Location: Vollers — Bury St Edmunds
WAREHOUSING The coffee stays at Vollers import warehouse under perfect conditions for green coffee to be stored, until Chimney Fire is ready to collect it and roast it!
Location: Chimney Fire Coffee — Dorking
ROASTING Mió Microlot 1939 is transformed into August Discovery Coffee during the roasting process at Chimney Fire Coffee
Location: Your Home
Our recommended recipe:
Brewing method: V60 / drip filter
Grind: 15g (medium grind)
Output weight: 250ml (94 °C)
Brew time: 3 mins
Enjoy and let us know what you think!
We have something exclusive with our August Discovery Coffee. Keep an eye out for specific traceability information, all the way from the farm to the roastery.
The British coffee market is saturated with an increasing number of speciality green bean merchants, roasters, cafes, and drinkers - and as technology becomes affordable, reliable and accessible, there is an opportunity to develop more credible data and partnerships between the people who help to create the brew we all love.