Coffee has become ubiquitous. This is easy to take for granted, but it’s only a recent development. Before the 20th century, you wouldn’t expect just any restaurant or household to have coffee to serve. Because of its recent global boom, the coffee world has had many branches as it adjusts to demand and settles into a role in our daily lives.
One of these branches is big coffee—commodity coffee—which is bought and sold by huge companies to maximize uniformity and profit. The branch that we inhabit, and that most excites us, is specialty coffee that comes from small holder farms. The difference between the two is stark, both in the taste of the coffee and in the people who grow, harvest, process, roast, brew, and drink it.
Where specialty coffee is grown, great pride and care is taken in selecting ripe cherries, and processing those cherries to highlight the natural beauty of that coffee and its environment. These small (and often family owned and operated) farms devote their attention to growing the best possible coffee trees, whereas big coffee’s only concern is maximizing production.
By prioritizing transparency, small lot farmers earn enough to make meaningful improvements to their families’ lives. In some cases, the new infrastructure that aids in coffee production also brings benefits to the whole community, such as more accessible water. Furthermore, many of the co-ops that process the the coffee we purchase are continually contributing to their respective communities by building schools and providing scholarships.
Because so much care and attention goes into cultivating great beans and quality relationships, the next logical step is to put much more care into the preparation of the coffee, so roasting is approached much differently with small holder coffee. The goal is to highlight what makes each coffee uniquely delicious. Thus light and light-toward-medium roasts become much more common, as darker roasting only serves to mask nuances in the coffee, like masking a meal with a heavy sauce.
We are massively inspired by the ways coffee is expanding in the world of specialty small-holder farms, and proud to be a part of that movement. The people involved lead better lives, the impact on the environment is more sustainable, and the coffee tastes better. Like much, much better.