In the Specialty Coffee Business, the roaster needs to understand the harvest cycle for each region to better anticipate usage of current stock and plan for the cupping/selection of the farms for the next year. On some of our tours we share this insight and it really surprises people. Black Powder does not always select from the same farms every year because of environment or process changes. The cupping profile (a.k.a. taste) is paramount in this business model and in continuing our brand promise.
Basics of harvest cycle: Farms on the equator, two harvests per year. Off the equator, one harvest per year. This is for the high elevation shade grown coffees we only provide which are also called SHB (superior hard bean). There are modified coffee trees on corporate plantations in Brazil and Columbia that provide 4-5 harvests to serve other markets but these will always be a compromise of taste and acidity. Just another reason we only buy SHB beans where we know the co-op or the farm.
We bring thus up for another reason, we are out of certain origin coffees during the year because of planning. As a small business, we try to figure out our needs and bring in enough to make it through but when a company is growing that forecasting is sometimes lacking. This month we ran out of Mexican Chiapas before the new harvest came into to our supplier in mid June. We are substituting other beans into our blends to balance the taste while we wait for sample of the 2015 harvest…..but this ads a level of stress to us who want to provide a consistent and superior product. The product is still superior but the taste profile does vary slightly while we manage the business until the new arrival. We are in our infancy on forward contracting (committing to the beans at the supplier and paying a monthly holding fee) but we know this will need to be the next step.
Black Powder Roasting asks for your patience as we grow together providing a product that is delightful and unique.