Thiago and Chris in front of the roaster
As one of the Coffee Roasters at Te Aro, I get asked by many customers about our processes and what are the most important steps in roasting – bagging the coffee, aging it, serving, brewing. What’s the most important thing in each step?
I feel that in coffee every single step is important – from the farm to the cup.
Today, I would like to address Green Beans.
Like roasted coffee, green beans must also be fresh. In the same way that roasted coffee has to be fresh in the shelf for our consumers, the greens have to be fresh in our pallets.
Everything starts with a simple conversation and a few goals. Our main goal for the customers is to provide quality – from our beans, to how your coffee is served. To break down this process, the steps are really to find specialty beans, find a good roast profile, and serve it fresh on the shelf to buy or in the grinder to enjoy at the Cafe.
And to do it, we have to cup a lot. Cupping is the term that we use to say that we are ‘tasting’ the coffee, and of course, evaluating it’s quality, roast profile, etc.
To define if the coffee is good or not good, we have more than our nose and our palette to follow. We also have a methodology that we practice in order to properly evaluate your coffee, and to make sure that we are evaluating coffee against the same criteria.
This methodology comes from an association called SCAA – Specialty Coffee Association of America. They were the first guys that defined what specialty coffee is and they created this new methodology to find better quality coffee, opening a specialty industry.
The SCAA Technical Standards Committee created the tools and methodology to evaluate and identify specialty coffees by score and flavor profile on a very consistent and efficient format.
Ted Lingle, Executive Director of SCAA, has created a complete program to teach, test and certify SCAA graders using these standards and methodologies on any coffee produced worldwide.
So, when we are following this methodology, we are following tracks that lead us to find good (or not so good) attributes in the cup. Attributes like aroma, body, acidity, uniformity, sweetness, balance, and aftertaste. Finally, we give the coffee an overall score.
The overall score is the only one that leaves us to score the coffee using own opinion. And this is where we always have our customers in mind.
Where does our green beans come from? Well, we do have two avenues, and in both, we try to be as close as we can to the farm (we believe that the more we know about the farm, farmer and region/country, we will be able to provide you with a better quality coffee). The first avenue is getting coffee from our specialty brokers. They send us samples; we cup them, score them, and ask for info about the farm.
The second is getting samples directly from the farm/farmer. This year, we have visited farms in Guatemala and Brazil, looking for greens. Farms that we do believe can provide a high and consistent quality about crop, processing and people.
Through this avenue, going directly to a farm, when we find a nice green beans, the roasting process begins. And this connects us back to the customer.
So, when I’m asked what’s important to use, I must say that every single step is. But the step where we come across this outstanding green bean, well, that’s the most exciting part about coffee. This is where it all begins.