We include as much relevant information as possible about each coffee that we feature. Sometimes all of this information can be a bit overwhelming so we wanted to take a moment to break down how and why we list each piece of information.
We use the title of the coffee to identify the coffee. We use information from the growers to create our own title that accurately describes who is responsible for the production of the coffee, and separates itself from our other listings.
The country of origin where the coffee was cultivated. Each country has its own government and structure to work within
The specific region, state, district, municipality, village, etc where the coffee was cultivated. We will typically provide broad data down to more specific information about where the coffee was grown, similar to how an address is listed.
Here is an example from El Salvador:
REGION: San Miguel Ingenio, Metapán, Santa Ana Department
San Miguel Ingenio- A cantón within the Metapán Municipality. A cantón is a specific area of rural population within municipalities of El Salvador.
Metapán- A city and municipality in the Santa Ana Department. One of over 260 municipalities in El Salvador.
Santa Ana Department - One of 14 departments in El Salvador.
Each country has its own unique designations and methods of creating administrative divisions within itself so this information will most likely look a little different between countries of origin. We encourage you to enter this information into a map and check out where in the world your coffee is coming from!
FARMER or GROWER:
We love sharing the names of the people behind each coffee! If we are buying from a single farm, or a small group of growers, we will list the names of the individuals behind each coffee.
The name of the farm is provided to us by the farm owner.
If a coffee is from a cooperative, we will list the name of the co-op or group that is responsible for growing the coffee. We source from groups as small as 20 producers up to thousands of growers! The smaller groups may not actually have the legal status of a cooperative and so we will identify this as simply “group”
A washing station is a common place to deliver coffee cherries. This is very common in Ethiopia and some other African countries where farms are very small and are not usually equipped to process their own cherries. Washing stations may collect cherries from thousands of hard working growers around their immediate area.
Here we will share the Arabica plant varieties that were picked and processed before making the journey from the farm to your cup!
Many farms grow multiple varieties and so these may either be separated from each other or blended at the time of purchase. If you see a coffee with two or more varieties listed, then it is a blend of those listed coffee varieties.
Each variety of coffee has its own characteristics from plant size to leaf shape, red to yellow cherries, high to low yields, and high to low quality potentials. Some varieties prefer higher elevations while others are perfectly content at lower growing altitudes. Some require more care and attention while others produce high amounts of cherries without the extra effort. The list goes on!
Varieties of coffee are often compared to grape varieties in viticulture, and each variety can have a unique flavor profile. We encourage you to note which varieties you are drinking and look for trends in your preference.
We can talk for days about coffee varieties so make sure to let us know if you have any questions about coffee varieties. Also be sure to browse the World Coffee Research Variety Catalog for more specific information.
Here we will list the processing methods used to ferment and dry the coffee after it is picked from the plant.
Coffee processing is evolving rapidly. Some of the most common processing methods that our producer partners implement include washed, natural, honey, wet hulled or even anaerobic or carbonic macerated fermentations.
After the coffee is picked, the seed inside of the coffee fruit must be dried to a stable moisture content for storage. How this coffee is dried can dramatically impact the coffee. Different processes are utilized around the world based on the specific environment, resources, customs, geography and even political history.
As the coffee is drying, something absolutely magical happens that many of us take for granted in our daily lives: fermentation. Fermentation is critical to some of our favorite food and beverages (beer, wine, coffee, kombucha, kefir, chocolate, bread, cheese, yogurt, kimchi, pickles, etc etc!). Fermentation is the process of microorganisms (such as bacterias or yeasts) breaking down sugars and other compounds. By consuming these compounds, these microorganisms produce “exhausts” such as ethanol and a variety of acids. When we roast these acids, we develop a wide range of flavors that are then noted in the cup.
There are many variables that impact fermentation (time, temperature, available sugar content, surface area, yeast and bacteria strains, etc). Some of these variables can be easily manipulated while others cannot.
Processing is an art and a science and there is still much to learn!
Here is a brief explanation of each common processing method:
Natural - Also known as “dry process” or “fruit dried” coffee. Cherries are picked and immediately set to dry as the whole fruit. Some of our more detail-oriented producers will “float” cherries to separate floaters and give the cherries a rinse of fresh water. Cherries must be constantly turned to avoid molding and promote even drying. Fermentation is throughout the drying process. We have found that many of our favorite natural processed coffees spend 20-28 days drying.
Washed - Also known as “wet process” or “parchment dried”. Cherries are put through a de-pulper to remove the outer skin and most of the fruit from the parchment coffee. The sweet, sticky layer called mucilage is still on the parchment and will be removed through “washing.” This washing process looks a little bit different depending on the wet-mill that is drying the coffee, but the end result is parchment coffee that has very little or no mucilage remaining on it. The coffee is then dried. We have found that many of our favorite washed processed coffees spend 10-14 days drying.
Honey - Also known as “mucilage dried” or as “pulped natural” in Brazil. Just as with washed coffees, cherries are de-pulped to remove the outer skin and fruit from the seed. The mucilage-covered coffee does not go through any washing and instead is dried with the mucilage on the parchment. Fermentation occurs through the air as the coffee dries. No honey is actually used in the process, but the fresh pulped coffee covered in mucilage is reminiscent of honey and the bees love the stuff! You may also see listings that say “black honey”, “red honey”, “yellow honey”, “white honey” - these usually mean how much mucilage is remaining on the coffee as it dries. The more mucilage, the darker the color. Less sun during drying will also cause the mucilage to look darker. We have found that many of our favorite honey processed coffees spend 14-20 days drying.
Wet Hulled - Also known as “giling basah'' or sometimes “Semi Washed.” Arguably one of the most unique ways of processing coffee, the wet hulled process is mostly found in Indonesia where high humidity, access to resources and historical practices have driven many mills to implement this drying technique as common practice. Coffee cherries are de-pulped by the grower and the parchment with mucilage is stored until they can be delivered to the collection point. At the mill or collection point the coffee may be washed or immediately hulled while the moisture content of the see is still 30-35%. This is very different from most of the world where the parchment coffee is not hulled until the green coffee has fully dried to 10-12% moisture content. The result is often herbal and earthy with a heavy body. Some roasters absolutely love this style and others do not. We have definitely tasted some amazing and high-scoring coffees from Indonesia that have been wet hulled!
Anaerobic - Anaerobic meansliving without oxygen. Technically all fermentation is anaerobic, but when we talk about “anaerobic fermentation” in coffee, we are generally referring to an oxygen deprived environment in which this fermentation is happening. In this method, coffee cherries or pulped coffee is put into a tank and sealed. Usually drums made of stainless steel or thick plastic are used with a valve to monitor the pH of the fermenting solution inside plus a one-way valve to release CO2 which is another byproduct of the microorganisms inside. The goal of the anaerobic environment is to slow down the fermentation process which results in some pretty unique flavors in the coffee! We are working with some farms who are getting over 100 hours of fermentation in the tank! After fermenting in this anaerobic environment, the coffee is processed/dried using one of the more traditional methods like natural, honey or washed.
Carbonic Macerated - This is a technique borrowed directly from winemaking. Cherries are put into an anaerobic environment and carbon dioxide is introduced into the vessel to create some pressure and push all oxygen out. The CO2 permeates the cherry and stimulates intracellular fermentation so that the bulk of the fermentation actually occurs under the skin of the cherry. Like the “anaerobic” method, the CO2 rich environment aims to slow down fermentation to develop unique flavors in the coffee. We mostly see carbonic macerated coffees dried as naturals after their time spent in the tanks, however we have tasted some very unique coffees that have been carbonic macerated in cherry before being pulped and dried, even pulped and washed and dried!
Did we miss any processing techniques that you would like to see? Let us know!
This is the altitude at which the coffee is grown. We list these altitudes as meters above sea level (MASL).
Typically you will see a range of elevation because the top of the farm is rarely the same elevation as the bottom of the farm. You will also see us list a wider range if the coffee is a blend from multiple farms at different elevations.
This is the grade that the coffee was exported as.
Grades really do not have much to do with the cup quality of the coffee, but more to do with the physical quality. Some grades like SHG (Strictly High Grown) or SHB (Strictly Hard Bean) have to do with growing elevations. Others like Kenya AA or AB are based on screen size of the green coffee (AA is the larger size).
This is the lot number or coffee ID code to separate the particular lot from all other coffees.
Marks are usually listed with the ICO number (International Coffee Organization). Many countries register each lot with the ICO. The first set of digits in the ICO number indicates the country of origin. The second set of digits indicates the mill or exporter. The third set of digits indicates the mill run or batch of exportable coffee.
HUMIDITY or MOISTURE:
We will list the moisture content of each coffee as a percentage.
The target moisture content for washed specialty coffee is generally between 10-12% at the time of import.
Coffees with higher humidity will generally require more energy during roasting.
We do purchase some naturals that test below 10% and cup very well and some Indonesian coffees above 12% that have proven to have great shelf life and high quality cups. Check the moisture content of your favorite coffees to see if you notice any trends.
We measure the density of each coffee using displacement of water.
The density of the coffee is also related to bean size and moisture content and can be a very useful piece of information to know before roasting a new coffee. Typically denser coffees will require more energy to roast while lower density coffees will need a more delicate approach.
This is the date that the coffee was actually picked.
Many farms may spend a couple of months harvesting, starting at the lower elevations and picking last at the higher elevations. We normally simplify this information by listing the month that the peak of harvest occurred, even though there may have been some portion of the coffee that was picked before or after the peak.
A coffee is considered to be “current crop” until the next crop cycle is ready to take its place. At this time the previous harvest is considered to be “past crop.”
We think it is important to note that past crop is a condition of the coffee and not a reflection of the quality. We have had many coffees cup very well after 12 months of storage and we have even cupped coffees that are 36 months old that we would still drink at home! We will always share the harvest date of the coffee so you know exactly how fresh your coffee is.
This will be the date that the coffee arrived into our possession at either Hacea’s warehouse or our third party warehouse partners’.
After coffee is picked it must be processed and dried. This may take up to 6 weeks, depending on the processing techniques used. After drying, the coffee is typically transported to a warehouse or a dry mill where it is rested and awaits its turn to be milled. We generally prefer a resting period of 1 or even 2 months before milling the coffee. Once milled, the coffee will be transported again to be loaded onto an ocean freight ship where it will begin the long trip from the port of origin to the destination. Once in port, the ship will dock and be unloaded. Customs may issue random inspections of the container which can cause further delays. Once we get the all clear, a truck is arranged to pick up the container and deliver it to the warehouse destination where it will be devanned and stored until it is ready to be picked up and roasted!
This process from getting coffee from the harvest to the warehouse can take a long time. It is not uncommon to see the peak harvest date 3 to 5 months earlier than the arrival date.
Shipping during 2020 and 2021 were greatly impacted by COVID and we experienced many delays in the ports. The ship would arrive with the coffee on board, but was unable to unload for weeks!
There are 10 different attributes that are quantified on the SCA form. Here is a list of all attributes with notes quoted from the Specialty Coffee Association:
Fragrance/Aroma | The aromatic aspects include Fragrance (defined as the smell of the ground coffee when still dry) and Aroma (the smell of the coffee when infused with hot water). One can evaluate this at three distinct steps in the cupping process: (1) sniffing the grounds placed into the cup before pouring water onto the coffee; (2) sniffing the aromas released while breaking the crust; and (3) sniffing the aromas released as the coffee steeps. Specific aromas can be noted under "qualities" and the intensity of the dry, break, and wet aroma aspects noted on the 5-point vertical scales. The score finally given should reflect the preference of all three aspects of a sample's Fragrance/Aroma.
Flavor | Flavor represents the coffee's principal character, the "mid-range" notes, in between the first impressions given by the coffee's first aroma and acidity to its final aftertaste. It is a combined impression of all the gustatory (taste bud) sensations and retro-nasal aromas that go from the mouth to nose. The score given for Flavor should account for the intensity, quality and complexity of its combined taste and aroma, experienced when the coffee is slurped into the mouth vigorously so as to involve the entire palate in the evaluation.
Aftertaste | Aftertaste is defined as the length of positive flavor (taste and aroma) qualities emanating from the back of the palate and remaining after the coffee is expectorated or swallowed. If the aftertaste were short or unpleasant, a lower score would be given.
Acidity | Acidity is often described as "brightness" when favorable or "sour" when unfavorable. At its best, acidity contributes to a coffee's liveliness, sweetness, and fresh- fruit character and is almost immediately experienced and evaluated when the coffee is first slurped into the mouth. Acidity that is overly intense or dominating may be unpleasant, however, and excessive acidity may not be appropriate to the flavor profile of the sample. The final score marked on the horizontal tick-mark scale should reflect the panelist's perceived quality for the Acidity relative to the expected flavor profile based on origin characteristics and/or other factors (degree of roast, intended use, etc.). Coffees expected to be high in Acidity, such as a Kenya coffee, or coffees expected to be low in Acidity, such as a Sumatra coffee, can receive equally high preference scores although their intensity rankings will be quite different.
Body | The quality of Body is based upon the tactile feeling of the liquid in the mouth, especially as perceived between the tongue and roof of the mouth. Most samples with heavy Body may also receive a high score in terms of quality due to the presence of brew colloids and sucrose. Some samples with lighter Body may also have a pleasant feeling in the mouth, however. Coffees expected to be high in Body, such as a Sumatra coffee, or coffees expected to be low in Body, such as a Mexican coffee, can receive equally high preference scores although their intensity rankings will be quite different.
Balance | How all the various aspects of Flavor, Aftertaste, Acidity and Body of the sample work together and complement or contrast to each other is Balance. If the sample is lacking in certain aroma or taste attributes or if some attributes are overpowering, the Balance score would be reduced.
Sweetness | Sweetness refers to a pleasing fullness of flavor as well as any obvious sweetness and its perception is the result of the presence of certain carbohydrates. The opposite of sweetness in this context is sour, astringency or "green" flavors. This quality may not be directly perceived as in sucrose-laden products such as soft drinks, but will affect other flavor attributes. 2 points are awarded for each cup displaying this attribute for a maximum score of 10 points.
Clean Cup | Clean Cup refers to a lack of interfering negative impressions from first ingestion to final aftertaste, a "transparency" of cup. In evaluating this attribute, notice the total flavor experience from the time of the initial ingestion to final swallowing or expectoration. Any non-coffee like tastes or aromas will disqualify an individual cup. 2 points are awarded for each cup displaying the attribute of Clean Cup.
Uniformity | Uniformity refers to consistency of flavor of the different cups of the sample tasted. If the cups taste different, the rating of this aspect would not be as high. 2 points are awarded for each cup displaying this attribute, with a maximum of 10 points if all 5 cups are the same.
Overall | The "overall" scoring aspect is meant to reflect the holistically integrated rating of the sample as perceived by the individual panelist. A sample with many highly pleasant aspects, but not quite "measuring up" would receive a lower rating. A coffee that met expectations as to its character and reflected particular origin flavor qualities would receive a high score. An exemplary example of preferred characteristics not fully reflected in the individual score of the individual attributes might receive an even higher score. This is the step where the panelists make their personal appraisal.
Defects | Defects are negative or poor flavors that detract from the quality of the coffee. These are classified in 2 ways. A taint is an off-flavor that is noticeable, but not overwhelming, usually found in the aromatic aspects. A "taint" is given a "2" in intensity. A fault is an off-flavor, usually found in the taste aspects, that is either overwhelming or renders the sample unpalatable and is given an intensity rating of "4". The defect must first be classified (as a taint or a fault), then described ("sour," "rubbery," "ferment," "phenolic" for example) and the description written down. The number of cups in which the defect was found is then noted, and the intensity of the defect is recorded as either a 2 or 4. The defect score is multiplied and subtracted from the total score according to directions on the cupping form.
The Final Score is calculated by first summing the individual scores given for each of the primary attributes in the box marked "Total Score." Defects are then subtracted from the "Total Score" to arrive at a "Final Score." The following Scoring Key has proven to be a meaningful way to describe the range of coffee quality for the Final Score.
Total Score Quality Classification
90-100 -Outstanding - Specialty
85-99.99 -Excellent - Specialty
80-84.99 -Very Good - Specialty
< 80.0 - Below Specialty Quality - Not Specialty
Here we will list all of the specific descriptors that we noted during our cupping.
These descriptors present you with a snapshot of what the overall “profile” of the coffee is from fragrance to flavor to acidity.
Here we will give some basic recommendations for approaching the coffee in your roaster.
Every roasting machine is different and each individual has their own preference. We prefer to share these roasting tips as if they are our own personal preferences. We will also make any pertinent comments such as “the coffee likes to speed up after first crack” to help you prepare for any unexpected hiccups while roasting the coffee.
We provide a brief history or description about the coffee, who we work with and any other relevant information.
We know how much work goes into producing every pound of green coffee, and we want to make sure that the craft and dedication of every coffee grower we work with does not go unnoticed!
There are seemingly countless variables that go into each coffee. What matters most is that we enjoy what we do and appreciate each coffee that we have the opportunity to taste. We encourage you to take notes and look for trends in your own preferences.
Is there any other information that you would like to see included with your coffee? Please let us know! Connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org