The Life of Wildflyer Coffee: Part 2
Welcome to part 2 friends! The last installment looked at how coffee is grown, harvested, and processed at origin. Today we’ll be talking about our coffee selected and purchased, answering the questions: Where do you buy your coffee? Where does it come from? How do you decide what you offer? How often do you bring in new coffees? The truth of the matter is, we love the differences between coffees, love to test out different potential buys side by side, and we love specific coffees and buying more of them!
Let’s start with the facts; all of the coffee that Wildflyer buys is grown by specialty coffee farmers throughout the world. Last month we learned that means it’s all Arabica, high altitude, dense and full of unique character. The three main ways that the coffee is delivered from the farms after harvest are through cooperatives, regional washing stations and direct trade buys. Cooperatives and regional washing stations both combine coffee from various small holder crops into larger groups to create higher distribution and growing resources which in turn advocates on the behalf of coffee workers. Our Peru CENFROCAFE was a cooperative coffee that we have purchased for a second year in a row, and coming soon to the store from Burundi is Kiryama which is a washing station cooperative. Direct trade buying comes from a particular coffee farm which generally provides a higher rate of cost for higher quality coffee than if it was combined with various other farms for industrial buys which allows the farm to reinvest the additional profit they receive in their community. Our Costa Rica was from a microlot from Finca El Jocote (The “Sour Fruit” Farm) owned by Juan Carlos Navarro.
At Wildflyer, we want to be buying coffee that excites us and blows away our taste buds but also coffee that works for the good of the communities that it comes from. We wouldn’t be in the right if we were trying to do good in the Twin Cities but were neglecting all the people that worked hard to get us the coffee that we work with. It’s incredibly important to us to make sure that the coffee we purchase is ethically sourced and economically beneficial to the source communities.
Specialty coffee is an investment, sometimes it’s risky, it’s a relationship, those go up and down. When we think about buying coffee we look up to organizations like Dogwood Coffee and Saint Frank who have decided that they are going to buy coffee from specific farms year after year as a physical sign of investment and a desire to grow mutually, connect directly, and create sustainable employment. When we all do better, we all do better. As we grow we hope to adopt a similar model of direct buys with year after year commitments.
We currently work with Minneapolis based and world renowned coffee importers Café Imports to bring in the coffee that we brew for you or package and send your way. One of the best parts about working with Imports is that they’re only a few miles away which means we can swing over to their warehouse and pickup samples of new coffees that we’re testing out or large 70 kilogram bags that we ordered. Imports is awesome and we are fortunate to have a partnership with them that goes back to the beginning of our story.
Speaking of testing coffee…. There is an oft used adage in coffee that says the ABC’s of specialty coffee are Always Be Cupping. Cupping is a practice that seeks to develop an in depth sensory picture of coffee and analyze its strengths, weaknesses, potential and flavor. In practice cupping is sampling various coffees side by side with a spoon out of a small bowl that contains coffee grounds. One of the ways that we use cupping is to test coffees from various farms or regions as we consider what we want to offer as a new piece to our coffee lineup. This involves getting between 5-10 samples of coffee from a specific region or country, roasting them in small quantities and then cupping them while making notes on what we like or what we think would flow well into a specific season. We also get the privilege of cupping with other organizations for added input, wisdom and care put into our decisions.
When thinking through our options for a coffee buy we think through a variety of factors. Above we mentioned how important the economic impact of our spending goes and how we seek to value to the growing community in our purchase. We also value the inherent quality of the coffee, its versatility, its nuances, how it feels to drink, its freshness, what flavors it brings to mind, we want to have some fruity and juicy coffees in the summer and rich and chocolately coffee available in the winter. We value offering a variety of coffees to our customers, we want have something for everyone’s taste buds, we want to have tiers of cost, we want to represent various parts of the world and we want to have consistency with our blends so that if someone likes it now, they’ll like it next year too. Environmental impact is also very important to us, we support farmers and producers that use organic and traditional farming practices that support the sustainable health of the climate and soil.
We hope that this gives you additional insight into the coffee you’re drinking and additional enjoyment in supporting our work. Thank you so much for all of your love and support of Wildflyer Coffee, we couldn’t do this without you!