As a coffee roaster, sourcing green coffee is one of the most important aspects of what we do. To make sure we get the best coffee for our retail, wholesale, and drop shipping customers, we work with a selected group of farmers and exporter/importers that we have deep relationships with. These connections allow us to get the freshest and most desirable coffee throughout the year.
Deciding what origin to offer our coffee partners requires experience and knowledge. What will their customers enjoy? How long do I need to have this coffee available? Does it fit with our business model? Depending on your selling area, customers might enjoy certain coffees more than others. Also, we like to have our coffees around for no more than 4-6 months on average. Because we store our green coffee in a climate and humidity-controlled room, our green can remain fresh-tasting throughout this period. That being said, what you choose to invest in can come back to bite you in the butt if you’re not deliberate and responsible. Trust me, I’ve made this mistake before, and it’s not fun.
Before you commit to a coffee, it’s important to understand what coffee types are available to choose from.
There are three dominant coffee types you look for when purchasing green coffee for profit. As a coffee buyer and roaster, it’s essential to choose a coffee type based on your customer base and needs. Just because you love it, doesn’t mean you can sell it.
Washed Processed Coffee
The first and most common coffee type is a washed coffee. Washed coffees have the two seeds (beans) removed from the cherry fruit; then they are soaked for some time in large baths to help the natural microbes eat away at the sweet, sticky mucilage layer surrounding the beans. Afterward, the coffee is washed in a machine or a large channel to clean off any remaining mucilage layer. Washed coffees tend to be clean, transparent, bright, and more delicate in flavor. Countries and regions that have access to an abundant amount of freshwater tend to focus on this process, and the majority of specialty coffee we consume is washed processed coffee.
Honey Processed Coffee
Honey processed or pulped natural processed coffee is our second type. To create a honey processed coffee, the mill first removes the seeds from the fruit, and then instead of soaking the beans to remove the mucilage, they put them right onto the drying beds or patios. With the mucilage still intact, sweet, mildly fruity flavor is imparted into the coffee beans. After the drying process, the coffees are milled further to remove the husk and then bagged up for shipping.
Natural Processed Coffee
Naturally processed coffee is the third coffee processing style. Naturally processed coffee is a standard processing method in regions with low rain volume or farmers who want to create a coffee with a substantial body and a ton of fruit flavors. To create a naturally processed coffee, the farmer will pick the coffee cherries and immediately dry them on raised beds or patios. The cherries will shrink like raisins and impart a fruity flavor into the seeds. Once this drying process is complete, the cherries are milled. The issue that can arise from this process is over-fermented coffee and other non-desirable flavors if not done properly and under the right conditions.
Once we decided on a coffee type and region or country we are interested in offering, we contact our vetted suppliers or farmers to see what they have that is fresh and seasonal. Seasonality is significant to us because it means that our coffees will taste their best for the most extended period. Also, all our specialty grade coffees come in Grain Pro bags. This large thick plastic liner keeps the moisture levels more even and keeps any strange smells or flavors from harming the green coffee.
Our suppliers provide us with a variety of small 100-gram green coffee samples to roast on our professional Ikawa sample roaster. The Ikawa allows us to reproduce a specific roast profile that we create or download from our green coffee providers. This way, we are tasting the coffee as they do and can calibrate with them.
Coffee Sample Cupping
After roasting, we “cup” or sample the coffee using a repeatable and standardized method. Using this cupping method developed by the SCA (Specialty Coffee Association) allows us to judge the coffee on its merits and not how it was roasted or brewed. This process consists of using specific cupping bowls, in our case, 10 grams of roasted coffee, and 160 grams of water. We do everything by weight, so there are no variations from cup to cup except for the coffee itself. After the water is poured, we wait 4 minutes to let it steep and form a crust on the surface. After four minutes, we break the crust with our spoon and smell the aroma. We’re looking for pleasant smells that indicate a quality cup and proper processing. We scrape the remaining foam off the top and wait till about 12 minutes before we start to taste the coffee.
As we sample each coffee, we’re looking for clean, transparent flavors, a pleasant body, sweetness, and a lingering aftertaste that makes you want to go in for that next sip. Coffee should be enjoyable, and you shouldn’t have to add milk and sugar to a quality cup of black coffee.
At the end of the day, you need to run your coffee business like any other. You purchase your goods and resell them for a profit. It’s ok to make money, that’s the only way to keep going and grow. Learn as much as you can about your market and the coffee types you’re interested in. This will help you marry the two together to make for a successful endeavor.
Path Coffee Roasters is located in Port Chester, NY where we roast and package all our coffees on a weekly basis for our wholesale, retail and dropshipping customers.
Please reach out to us if you have any questions, we’re here to help.