As more coffee-producing countries convert into consumers, they will want to improve the quality of their produce, and of what they are consuming.
One of the most effective ways to do this is to understand the quality of coffee they are producing. As a result, the number of producers who roast their own coffee at origin is steadily increasing.
That said, as with any food, coffee is subject to personal preference and roast profiles and brewing methods will differ between countries and customers.
Therefore, when specialty coffee roasters or green bean buyers cup a sample at origin, it may not always meet their expectations. The coffee may appear under or overdeveloped, as it is unlikely the coffee producer is also a professional roaster.
It is even more unlikely the roaster will be able to experiment with the green coffee on site due to a lack of equipment. Hence, they must decide whether to buy the green coffee based on the cupping sample.
Read on to find out how different regional roasting trends may affect green coffee buying decisions.
Why do roasters cup coffee at origin?
It is becoming common practice for specialty coffee roasters to visit producers at origin.
These trips are essential to maintaining a healthy relationship with the farmers. Additionally, they provide roasters with insight into the working conditions, challenges, and levels of care that go into the product they are buying.
More so, origin trips allow roasters to provide feedback to the farmer in order to improve the quality of their coffee.
One of the best ways to engage with farmers and conduct quality control is to hold a cupping session on the farm.
Usually, this would involve roasting samples at origin, usually using a small sample roaster. A standard roast profile is chosen for all the samples, and once they are cupped, the roaster will choose which they prefer.
However, this is not the final step in the process: the roaster must still determine the optimal roast profile to bring out the best of the coffee.
The taste of one particular green lot can vary based on the roast profile, which will depend on several factors that roasters need to consider.
These include the coffee varietal, as some tend to react differently during the roast. Additionally, the way the coffee is processed will need to be considered. For instance, natural processed coffee tends to preserve more sugars, which can make them more sensitive to heat during roasting.
More so, knowing the density of the green bean is essential. Coffees with low density and hardness will require a lower initial charge temperature, as they can easily become overroasted.
Alternatively, higher density coffees will need a higher initial temperature to dry out the coffee faster and experience better development.
Most importantly, the roaster must have a clear vision of the final product. For example, will it be used in a seasonal blend or a single-origin offering?
A roaster must understand the demands of the local customer base, as these factors will affect which green bean is sourced and how it is roasted.
How do different regional roasting trends affect green coffee buying decisions?
When sourcing green coffee, roasters are likely to visit several different farms across various regions.
Each growing region displays unique characteristics, all of which have an impact on the final flavour in the cup. These characteristics are governed by variables such as soil quality, climate, and plant variety.
Broadly speaking, the Americas are known for their well-balanced coffees, with some chocolate and hazelnut notes appearing in coffees from Brazil.
In East Africa, coffees tend to be clean, juicy, and fruity, while some regions, such as Burundi, lean more towards sweetness.
Understanding where and how the green coffee has been grown will help roasters determine the ideal roast profile.
Additionally, it is essential for roasters to cup a sample of coffee at origin. That said, the producer will often roast the sample, and more likely, to their own preference.
More so, the producer may be influenced by regional roasting trends. For example, a large-scale Kenyan producer may prefer a richer, bolder coffee than a nano-lot Gesha producer in Panama.
It is highly likely visiting roasters will receive a product that is targeted to someone else’s preference and not their own, which may negatively affect the sale.
Tasting something unexpected may skew the perception of its quality and mask its potential. Therefore, it is up to roasters to recognise the potential of the green coffee despite it being roasted differently to how they would do it themselves.
What can roasters do?
Roasters can avoid disappointment, save time, and money if they are clear about what they want.
Clear communication between roasters and producers is key. A roaster should be able to convey the type of flavours desired and advise producers on how to adapt farming methods in order to deliver.
In addition to sharing their preferred roast profile with producers, roasters should make an effort to gain insight into the local coffee culture.
This will help them get an idea of what the producers’ preferences are and be able to set expectations going forward.
Roasters are also able to request green coffee samples over roasted samples. If packaged correctly, the green samples maintain freshness and quality longer than roast coffee.
Roasters will then be able to experiment with different roast profiles to achieve the desired result.
Having green samples shipped to a roastery is a cost-effective solution for those who are unable to take an origin trip.
MTPak Coffee understands the effort roasters undertake in order to source, import, and roast the best coffee they can find.
Our range of sustainable packaging is made from eco-friendly materials, such as kraft or rice paper with a LDPE or PLA lining, and we are able to offer low minimum order quantities (MOQs) of packaging, no matter what size or material.
We can use digital printing to customise coffee bags to highlight the unique characteristics of your coffee.
We also have a 40-hour turnaround and 24-hour shipping time, allowing us to offer low minimum order quantities (MOQs) of packaging, no matter what size or material.