Ben Corey – Moran is the Director of Coffee Supply at Fair Trade USA where it’s his job to develop and strengthen the supply chain between the small coffee farmers of Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America and coffee buyers from all over the world, some of them as large as Walmart.
He’s been in the coffee business since 2003 and has an intimate understanding of the whole picture, from the harvest of the fruit to how to create the perfect cup at home.
Ben walks us through his five essentials for understanding how our coffee comes to us, and how to find and create that perfect cup of morning coffee at home.
Ben Corey – Moran’s 5 Essentials for Making the Best Cup of Coffee Possible (in Every Sense of the Word)
1. Seek a connection to your roaster
“When looking for a roaster to buy your coffee from, pay attention to two things: how your roaster interacts with their community and the quality and craft of their roasting, which is at the heart of what they do.
Most roasting companies who are doing good work are really committed to education and they will create opportunities for you to come to their facility to take a tour, they’ll host cuppings where you can taste their coffee and learn about their company. You’ll know a good roaster when you see it.
You can tell when a company is walking their talk. Ask questions, talk to the people that work there, do your research.”
2. Seek a connection to the coffee
“This is also related to finding a good roaster. If you trust this company and they’re telling you that they travel to coffee growing countries and they meet with the farmers, then that’s beautiful. But obviously not everyone can do that so something like Fair Trade can be a surrogate.
Ultimately, what you want to see is some commitment to and concern with their supply source.
“Always look for coffee that reflects your values. By ‘values’ I mean everything from consuming things that are delicious to finding goods that are produced in ways that are healthy for people and ecosystems and are also responsibly traded.
Again, the Fair Trade seal is a good surrogate for this for times when you’re looking on the store shelf and there’s lots of brands and you don’t know which one to choose. I say: choose Fair Trade.
“It can cost more, but not always. Fair Trade guarantees that farmers are going to be paid a little more than the commercial market but that doesn’t always translate to coffee costing more at the retail market.
You can buy Fair Trade at Walmart and it’s cheap there! It’s a lot cheaper to buy Fair Trade coffee at Walmart than it is to buy non-Fair Trade coffee at Whole Foods.”
3. Tune into Seasonality
“Coffee is a fruit and it grows on a tree and like all fruiting trees, it produces one crop per year.
In coffee producing countries that are north of the equator (Nicaragua, Uganda, Ethiopia), the harvest coincides with the fall harvest here in the US. When we’re picking our apples and persimmons, coffee farmers are finishing up picking the coffee cherries and processing them.
The coffee has to be dried, cured, and sorted so these coffees won’t ship until February/March/April and won’t arrive here until April/May/June. Come late spring/early summer, look for coffees from the northern hemisphere and drink those coffees for the next six months.
“This time of year (early December), you’ll notice that a lot of places are featuring coffees from Honduras and Costa Rica but suddenly coffees from Bolivia, Brazil, and Indonesia slip in and those are coffees from the southern hemisphere.
So come winter you can start to expect to see the coffees that were harvested in June/July/August south of the equator.
Coffee drinkers are lucky because coffee is grown both north and south of the equator, which gives us two harvest seasons a year. If you pay attention to this, you can always drink super fresh coffee.”
4. Understand what it is about coffee’s set of flavors that most entices you
“Simply put, seek out the coffee that you love. First and foremost this has to do with roast.