The Challenges Of Quality In Coffee

Just a quick blog post taken from a recent interview that was done for local publication answering the question: 'What are some of the challenges you face [running a specialty coffee business]?'

One of the challenges we face is helping our customers understand what makes the individual coffees we buy objectively better. We've spent a lot of energy defining our coffee buying philosophy, and educating our customers on the finer details of coffee production to prove that we are actually adding value and not just participating in the ubiquitous act of advertiser 'hand waving'. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about coffee.

There's a lot that happens from the time the coffee is planted and harvested, to the time we actually receive it in our shop, and it's those steps that contribute the most to the flavor in the cup. These are the things we pay attention to and try our best to convey to the customer in a palatable way. We do this through our in-person interactions at Riverside Arts Market in Jacksonville, and in our product descriptions on our website. But there's a lot that gets glossed over because of the time constraints in place.

The level of coffee freshness we provide - less than 72 hours from roast to delivery - is, I believe, pretty foreign to most people. Explaining the importance of this detail is also challenging. It requires a level of understanding most people would never find necessary, but is extremely obvious once you experience it. I think the preconception is that coffee is a 'dry good' therefore it's good forever. This couldn't be farther from the truth. As soon as coffee leaves the roaster, flavor and aroma compounds begin to escape in the form of volatile gasses. That's the smell you get when you open a fresh bag of coffee. This volatility further accelerated by grinding. Simply put, the sooner you drink coffee from the time it is roasted, the more flavor it has, preferably within the first few weeks of roasting. As hot water is poured over the coffee grounds, soluble flavor compounds are dissolved into the water, making their way into the cup. These basic principles are why I decided it was so important to give people the opportunity to try truly fresh coffee, delivered or shipped within 72 hours of roasting. It's a truly life changing experience. Once you've tried it, it's really hard to go back.