Behind the Scenes 6: Green Coffee, An Intro

Behind the Scenes 6: Green Coffee, An Intro

This post is the first in a multi-part series - In our "about us", we said the following statement:
"Understanding the balance between cost, quality, and ethics in coffee sourcing isn't always easy, and as part of our honest discourse, we will try and share what the challenges are in balancing these three elements without sacrificing the latter."

The following posts will aim to start this dialogue, though it can never be definitive - it is an ongoing process. We are interacting with a dynamic and complex system; international commodity markets, environment & climactic changes, changing consumer demand, new ethical insights, geopolitics.  To navigate this year on year requires an open mind, and an open heart. We will not get it right 100% of the time - nor would we ever claim to. We will do our best - and try and talk openly about it.

I feel almost as if I am writing this post to a past version of myself, while I was still just a barista, or a coffee lover before that still.

Someone who's been further up the chain, working in a import adjacent roles for a while might scoff at some of the topics I will cover as the most obvious, matter of fact things. But coffee is a huge, sprawling topic, with many, many things to learn to truly grasp what's going on - so when we start out, we eagerly learn, we adsorb training, talks, blog posts, books, videos, bar chat (both behind the counter and over it) - and we start to parrot it back, even training others in a cycle while we search for our own understanding.

But the crucial thing is - what you're often exposed to in this period is simplified, with good reason - training a barista with a first time intro-to-coffee session that went into supply chain dynamics would be a hugely confusing mess for both trainee and trainer. And most of the other copy we are exposed to - 90% of time there's some element of marketing involved - shaving the rough edges off, worrying that going too deep might be off-putting to the casual consumer.

So why do I want to write this series? It's because when you finally think you've got it grokked - you can confidently repeat all that you have been told, you can talk about processes and "terroir" and origin profiles by the retail shelf (either as barista or as consumer), and hold your own at the public cupping table:

You get a job closer to the import side and you realise it's only the tip of the iceberg. That things, perhaps - are not quite as they seem.. 

I will attempt to condense the things I have learned since moving "off bar" 6 years ago, in a way that hopefully is helpful to those in a similar position, keen to understand more about the steps required to produce the coffee we love. In doing this, drawing back the curtain, I hope to talk more about how we're interacting with these systems, and how we hope and plan to evolve that interaction as we grow. 

I will append the links to each post as they are published below


Part I: The Trilemma of Green Buying

Part II: The Ticking Clock of Freshness 

Part III: Price

Part IV: Quality

Part V: Ethics? 

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