Coffee From Cup to Farm (Part 1)

By Samuel Brooks, Temple Coffee Educator

Picture this: you’re in a cafe, leaning back against a cushioned seat. Perhaps for the first time today you take the weight off your feet, close your eyes and take a deep breath. You’re about to participate in the sacred, modern tradition of drinking damn good coffee.

But first, you raise the warm mug and inhale with as much intentionality as you can muster to savor the delicate aromas of this wonderful beverage. Once convinced it’s cool enough to enjoy, you begin. Anticipation is the first thing to hit your palate. It’s quickly followed by a warm, vastly flavorful, and pleasant beverage that briefly brings to mind everything that’s good in life. Ahhhhh. Trying to identify the nuanced flavors as you’re tasting is like trying to catch leaves falling from an old oak tree. The first sip is revealing and rewarding. After just a moment of re-preparation, you raise the cup again for your second sip, this time with more intention of what to look for. If you’re like me, you immediately want to share this impressive beverage, or at least post about it to social media, with a shout out to your favorite barista. You glance to the left and to the right to see if you make eye contact with any other patron that might have a common appreciation for the magic you’re currently drinking. Then you offer a moment of thanks for the farmer, and the roaster, and anyone else that was involved in creating this wonderful beverage. But wait… who else was involved in creating this beverage? Let’s trace it back from cup to the farm.

Cup

The coffee was brewed and served by a barista: Barista Bob. (Yes, barista is a gender neutral title.) Barista Bob prepared and brewed the Costa Rica Sonora Venecia after I accepted his enthusiastic recommendation.

“It’s definitely my favorite coffee right now” – Barista Bob

He brewed with intentionality and followed the recommended recipe for the Sonora Venecia. His brewing device was clean, as was the water used. He freshly ground his coffee and started brewing immediately.

Recommended Recipe

The recipe for brewing this coffee came from our quality control team. They experiment and analyze all coffees that come through Temple Coffee Roasters. They crafted this recipe trying to maximize sweetness and reveal the unique flavors of this particular coffee.

For the Costa Rica Sonora Venecia offering, we grind a little coarser than most of our other coffees to ensure balance and ideal extraction. We brew this coffee at a 1:16 coffee to water ratio to ensure an especially tasty cup. Before it got here, the coffee was roasted right here in Sacramento by Temple’s own Camilla Yuan and her team of roasters.  (2829 S Street, Sacramento, CA. Come in and say hi sometime!)

Roasting

When Camilla receives green (unroasted) coffee beans, she’s aware of its great potential. It’s her and her team’s job to uncover and unlock this coffee’s array of delicious flavors, textures, and aromas.  Her first step is to roast a couple of different generic profiles simply to taste the coffee.

Then her and her team cup (i.e. taste) both batches and discuss adjustments that need to be made. Together they create a recipe unique and fitting for this particular coffee. The goal is to develop sweetness, showcase the natural flavors, and mellow out any harshness or undesirable traits that may be present. Once convinced the coffee has reached its full potential, she records the roast profile or “recipe” and the production roasters take it from there.

Sourcing

So how did the coffee find its way to Camilla? For the answer to that question, we meet a man named Ed! Ed Whitman is Temple’s green coffee buyer and Director of Coffee.

At Temple Coffee, one might argue that our most valuable assets are all the relationships we’ve cultivated between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn (the latitudes in which Arabica coffee grows). As our green coffee buyer, Ed he travels overseas to build and maintain relationships with some of our favorite people on the planet: coffee farmers.

Ed has 2 primary ways of acquiring great coffee:

  1. Farmers that we’ve connected with for years will send us coffees they’re really excited about and that they think will suit our needs well.
  2. He’ll make some new friends by purchasing coffee from a given farm based on the score given by a Q-grader (the coffee version of a Jedi).

Both of these options would be impossible without help from coffee exporters. There’s really much more to these processes, but I’ll touch on that a bit more in Part 2 of this blog post. We’ll also go over the different ways coffee cherries are processed and how that affects taste.