We've dedicated ourselves to transforming our experience of coffee from a generic commodity to a really special beverage, and treat it more like fresh produce than some faceless staple. This concept is at the core of our coffee work. We have committed ourselves to working directly with farmers, achieving total transparency for those who consume our coffee, and achieving new heights in flavor, freshness, and authenticity.
This understanding of coffee as produce has wonderful implications: it lets us think of coffee as a fresh, artisan-crafted food, with all the delicious experience that brings. However, many in the coffee industry are unaware that, like all produce, coffee is a distinctly seasonal crop. Just as passionate food lovers learn about how eating with the seasons makes it possible to truly enjoy foods at their peak of quality and flavor, so have we come to understand the dramatic effect that drinking coffee in season has to the enjoyment of our favorite beverage.
As background, here's a little bit about how a coffee farm works. Rainy seasons in coffee growing countries trigger a flowering of a coffee bush, and when these flowers are pollinated small coffee fruits appear on the branches of the tree. About 9 months later, the red, ripe coffee cherries are ready for harvest. Once these cherries are picked, the hard work of preparing for export begins: fermentation, washing, drying, milling, sorting … this process can take up to 3 months. When the coffee is exported, it is at its very peak: fresh tasting and sweet, filled with all the coffee greatness that we unlock through careful roasting and brewing. The excitement of a new-crop coffee, with all its fresh flavor and natural beauty intact, is the greatest joy of working in coffee. As the months go by, this flavor fades little by little, and the coffee loses its unique characteristics, becoming more and more ordinary. Luckily, however, the seasons have changed, and there are new harvests of new coffees to explore and enjoy.
It's our mission to introduce our friends and customers to the joy of seasonal coffee. Dedicating ourselves to coffee seasonality is the only way to truly understand and support greatness in coffee flavor. Drinking seasonal coffee is the best way to ensure quality in the cup, and it's a great way to feel more connected to the natural change of the seasons, and the wonders of a new harvest.
So which coffees are in season, and when? Since the coffee crop is linked to the rainy season, the date of harvest can vary from year to year. In general, Northern-hemisphere coffees (say, from Central America) are at their best between May and October, and Southern Hemisphere coffees (South American and African coffees) are best from November through April. Places that straddle the equator (like Kenya and Sumatra) often have more than one harvest season. We have for years listed harvest information on our website, and this gives the drinker a sense of when the coffee is best. This year, we're taking another step closer to coffee perfection; we commit to only offer coffees while they are seasonally fresh and great. This has a number of advantages for the coffee lover:
- It allows the drinker to be enjoying coffee at its very peak of flavor.
- It encourages exploration and experimentation, as coffees cease to be available because of the seasons, and coffee drinkers are moved to try new things.
- It allows us to create better value for both the coffee drinker and farmer: since harvested coffee must be financed
It's an amazing example of a win-win, and we're committed to doing the hard work it takes to bring the best of the season to our customers. This also means that coffees won't be available year-round as they have been in the past. While the tradition in the coffee business has been to sell coffee whether in season or not, we think that is a tradition made to be broken. We're so proud of our seasonal coffees, and we look forward to exploring the seasons with you.
Click here for downloadable PDF of the information on this page.