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In Season Coffee 3

03/01/2010

In Season Coffee

Since November 2009 I have been thinking I should blog about In Season coffee again, as it was over a year ago in November 2008 that I first posted this and asked the question, among others, “where is the hype”? I did not imagine the debate that would ensue nor predict the shit ton of hits and comments, people seemed passionate about it… I then did a follow up where I posted Geoff Watt’s comments in “In Season Coffee 2″, about what Intelligentsia had planned for the initiative.

I was not really wanting to do a follow up as I did not want to, how should I put this, rock the boat as it were…

Then Mr James Hoffmann put in his 5 predictions for 2010 post that there would be increasingly explicit seasonality, so with that, a year on, I thought that I would ask a couple of questions as the boat is already a rocking. Thanks James.

1, What does Seasonality mean to you the business owner?

2, What does Seasonality mean to you the consumer?

3, Are we talking about Seasonality in coffee, if so are we talking about it enough?

4, What does Intelligentsia’s In Season program mean to you?

Penny for your thoughts.

My predictions for 2010 – Australia.

Direct Trade Coffee – Australia

I was in Australia the other week renewing my visa (3rd change in visa status for 09 (don’t remind me)) and I get the feeling that in Australia, 2010 will be all about Direct Trade Coffee, it has started to get some hype already but I have the feeling that there will be a few companies making a huge push in this direction in 2010. In particular Central America,  a region that seems to be a little under represented back home.

Alternative brewing methods – Australia

Alternative brewing methods other then espresso will continue to make more appearances in cafes throughout Australia’s major cities and hopefully inland as well. This is a great thing for Australia and I am already seeing this happen, as it is exposing coffees in another light and now old, agey coffees will increasingly no longer cut it. They will no longer be able to hide berried in espresso blends, as single origin filter style coffees get more and more popular. What does this mean? Well like I said in the last paragraph, it will mean people will be looking for Direct Trade coffees, investing more at origin with less emphasis on toys and equipment at home.

Shortening shipping routes – Australia

Now this one could be a bit harder to achieve but surely there are quicker shipping routes then shipping coffees from America via Hong Kong or Singapore. Coffee companies will be trying to shorten shipping routes, all with the view to get coffees on Australia’s soil quicker so the consumer can enjoy coffees sooner/ fresher. This of course rings true world wide.

Parting thought

I will leave you all with one thought; I wonder who will be the first in Australia to start talking about seasonality, who will break the silence? If someone has already then, sorry, let me know who.

Disclaimer – This is not an Intelligentsia sanctioned post, these are my thoughts and may not represent the thoughts and beliefs of the good folk at Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea.

3 comments

  1. Seasonality is something that has been thrown around a bit of late down here in the antipodes, but more in relation to purchasing fresher green coffee. There has been an explosion of new green providers in Aus in the last 3 years which has been a welcome addition, primarily driven by buyers and roasters who were sick of receiving aged green stock and poor quality green.

    i’ve not seen anyone use ‘seasonal’ coffee as a marketing/labeling except Market Lane are doing a Seasonal espresso, as many roasters do, but perhaps without pointing out why and what coffees are in season at any given time. Plenty of people adjust their coffee blends according to available and seasonally fresh green, and let their consumers know that it’s an evolving product.

    Single origin offerings have also been apparent on seasonality but like you mentioned, shipping times to Aus are tricky at best. We have a standard 3 month wait from buying to delivery from Brazil, and longer still from Ethiopia and central America (last year we waited 4 months for a container from each country).

    What is good, however, is that there is a collective movement across cities and roasters to inform the consuming public about seasonality, fresh coffee and all the things we harp on about all the time in relation to quality, and from what i can observe (which is somewhat skewed being inside the industry which is really quite small) it’s starting to be noticed by wary consumers.

    Fair Trade is also very widely recognised here by consumers, and love it or hate it, at the very least has made people aware of the supply chain for green coffee.


  2. The shorter shipping routes is a good point. I think the direct trade would be better done with closer countries like PNG, Indo, India. There is already a few roasters doing this and it makes a lot of sense.

    Having just started buying coffee I can’t bring myself to even try coffee offered from Indonesia which is sold via Europe.


  3. Deaton,
    As a VERY small roasting company, seasonality has been a thorn in our sides for years. The first 3 yrs of business, it was simply beyond our financial grasp. Two seasons ago, we caught a break and got to step up our green inventory through a really great company with top practices. Since then, it has been just as Geoff said – fighting the clock to get those coffees out in time to catch the next crop. Our customers balked at the change in menu pretty hard for a while as with this change towards a seasonal focus, we ended all of our blending and went strictly single origin (for the purpose of really becoming intimate with those origins solely on their stand-alone merits, not because we are opposed to blending). But with a clientele that is very open to education, we pumped the entire staff full of harvest, processing, shipping and agricultural info so we could pass that on to the customer while we made their Chemex or press (if we got the high-sign that they cared to know).

    It is still a struggle for us as a micro-roaster, but at this point, seasonality is as important to (most of) our patrons as it is to us. I guess you could say we’ve painted ourselves into a corner by arming the consumer with this knowledge and we dig it. Thanks for helping get the word out on seasonality. If more of us keep on saying it and doing it, I think we’ll hit the “rising tide floats all boats” principle.

    Hunt Slade
    Safehouse Coffee and Tea
    http://www.dirtyCup.com



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