The coffee industry relies very heavily upon those who are at the very beginning of the supply chain, the farmers. Despite this, most farmers receive only a very small percentage of the final price of a bag of roasted coffee. This is because coffee is considered a commodity and is largely traded at the 'C' price, which has recently been in the realm of 2.50 - 3.10 AUD per KG. That same KG of roasted coffee however, typically retails between $15 and $30 AUD. This at least is how the commodity coffee market works, and is what you will usually find on the shelf at a supermarket.
Enter the specialty coffee industry, where the key ideas are sustainability, transparency and quality. Sustainability for the farmers so that they can continue to grow coffee, over other more profitable crops, and maintain a fair standard of living by doing so. Transparency so that we as coffee roasters, our green coffee importers and buyers and the general public can make informed purchases that will contribute to the sustainability of the industry. And quality to provide a better product to the consumer, which allows for a higher price to be paid to the farmer and sets us apart from the commodity industry. The focus however, is often strongly on quality, and transparency can easily be forgotten. Yes, I as a roaster or as a barista, might know the name of the farm or cooperative that produced this particular coffee, but that does not mean that the farmer or cooperative in question was paid a fair and sustainable price for their coffee - this is business after all.
Therefore, the way that we buy our green coffee is very important to us here at G&T. We're not happy just buying the best coffees on the market or knowing where they come from, we're looking for a little something more. Luckily we get to work with some great people like the crew behind Raw Material who are just as passionate about specialty coffee as we are. They are able to provide us with information straight from origin and even put us in direct contact with the producers themselves, thanks to the internet.
It is worth noting that a good number of roasters are working this way. Tim Wendleboe is one of the forerunners - he posts transparency reports each year detailing exactly how much coffee he bought, where he bought it from and how much he paid.
This is the goal.
This is Keith, a Q Grader, owner of a manly beard and all round nice guy. I'm super excited to announce that Keith is now a partner in Grace and Taylor. He has many years of barista experience after starting young in his parents business in Northern NSW, and was most recently the Head Barista for Devon. Over the next few weeks we will be trying to pop in and visit as many of you as possible so you can meet in person!
On the coffee front, we are eagerly waiting on a pallet of our new Colombian to be released from the docks. It will be replacing the El Pital as both a single and as our base in the Graceland blend. More details to come after we get our roast profile sorted, but needless to say both Keith and I were thrilled to get the only bags available in Australia.
If you haven't tried the Kenya Wanjengi as either espresso or filter, we can't recommend it highly enough! Super balanced with juicy Blackcurrants, it's our pick of the singles at the moment.
We've been very busy bees over the past few weeks, roasting up a storm and hunting down some great coffee from origins we have yet to feature so far. There's also a number of exciting projects in the pipeline but we don't want to let the cat out of the bag just yet, so in the meantime we hope you enjoy this video by Søren Stiller Markussen from GreatCoffee in Denmark. Søren's passion for coffee is very contagious, and I've been a big fan of his after seeing him perform live at the WBC in Vienna.
Abdullah, from Njuri coffee, was born and raised in the foothills of Mt Kenya, where his extended family still farm coffee. The photo above is of Abdullah's Mum sorting coffee harvested on her farm. A number of farmers Abdullah knows were looking at replacing their coffee shrubs with other cash crops, as it was taking almost a year between harvest and payment from their co-operatives. With Abdullah now paying the farmers immediately, they are encouraged to continue farming coffee and have the cash to improve their farming practices.
We're proud to now release our first Kenyan offering from Wanjengi, in the Muranga region south east of Mt Kenya. It's a fully washed AA grade coffee, made up of SL28, SL34 and Ruiru 11 varietals. The coffee was harvested in December 2014, dried on raised beds and processed for shipment in February this year. It's juicy and winey, and as it cools it develops a lovely sweetness which balances the cup beautifully. A great option for both filter and espresso!