We cupped this coffee at the end of July when we had collected about 18 washed Ethiopia samples from different importers and exporters we had chosen. On our yearly visit to Ethiopia back in February, we contracted a container from our friends at Hambela, but we knew we would need a few more lots to round out the year. This is exactly the type of coffees we were hoping to find from others.
The reality of buying green coffee is that in order to offer the best of the best it takes the entire coffee chain to make things work. We buy about 30% of our offerings from small to large importers, and we aim to keep it this way. We always want to grow our relationships we have on the farm level, but we also hope to grow our friends on the importing side too. While importers may get a bad rap, they are integral to our industry and things wouldn’t’ function without them. Some of them are the best people I know in coffee and honestly hope to provide fair and stable prices in the torrent economic climate of coffee. Obviously, there are many bad deals, and people have been taken advantage of, but it’s never a good idea to attach that reputation as a blanket statement on the entire industry. Next time you see your friendly neighborhood importer give him or her a high five!
THE KOCHERE DISTRICT:
Kochere is a “Woreda” or as we say district in the Gedeo Zone of Ethiopia. It lies a few kilometers South of Yirgacheffe. Kochere's coffee farmers are made up of really small family farms. Most of the cherries harvested are mixed at the washing station, processed and separated by density. Once the coffee is dried, it’s graded into different lots. This particular coffee is a Grade 1 which means it has the least chance of defects and best cup uniformity.
This coffee is bright, with delicate sweetness and complexity. It's perfect on a V60! Use 20 grams of coffee, 300 grams of water, and grind on a medium fine grind setting. Bloom using 40 grams of water, and then pour three pulses with one steady stream into the center of the bed. The first pulse will go to 120g, the second to 200g, and the third to 300g! Finish pouring by 1:45, drain by 2:30.
This coffee comes from our friend Aleco at Red Fox Coffee Merchants. We paid $4.85 per pound for 10 69 kilo bags which we cupped this coffee as an 89. This year, we have purchased three different washed Ethiopian micro-lots from Red Fox. They have continually jumped off our blind cupping table every week as we receive hundreds of samples this past month. Big thanks and compliments to their sourcing team this past harvest.
- The Coffee Commodity purchase price was $1.26/lb when we purchased this coffee.
- The Fair Trade Coffee minimum purchase price was $1.60/lb when we purchased this coffee.
* We as a company believe transparency is unbelievably important. However, we decided to only list what is shown because we don’t know where to stop. Do we list the amount of coffee lost in roasting due to moisture loss? Should we list our roaster Mark's salary? The warehouse rent? The utilities? The point of listing things above is not to justify what we charge or what we profit, but to give a realistic snapshot of the industry and how Specialty Coffee can be different than other commodity industries. If you have concerns feel free to email us and I’ll write you back when I’m available.
Relationship Coffee is an initiative we, at Onyx, have purposely created to describe our sourcing and buying practices and how we document them. Certifications like Direct Trade, Fair Trade, and others have impacted the coffee communities in mostly positive ways but also in some negative ways. We find that blanket terms and applying them to a multitude of business models no longer describes what we do.
In reality, every company is different, and we wanted to step out from the mold and create a new set of standards that exceeds in every department from quality to transparency to pricing. The growers, exporters, importers, associations, cooperatives, and other entities are always a set of relationships. To be honest, many are our friends as much as they are our producers and partners. We share information, family news, meals, housing, many faiths, and argue politics. Oh, and we love it. Relationship Coffee for Onyx is the mark of an honest exchange ethos that permeates our company, and we hope it encourages the growth of specialty coffee for the future.
- We visited the farm or cupping lab and listened to the producer/agronomist or head cooperative/association to ascertain better knowledge about the culture and practices.
- We cupped the coffee, and it scored to our industry-high standards.
- We do not buy futures or multiple harvests to ensure that what we cupped for that year is what we serve.
- We do not ask for exclusivity from producers, binding their options.
- We pay what the coffee is worth. This always is at least double Fair Trade minimum due to the quality we buy, and many times is three to ten times the amount.
- We do not finance any coffee. Cash flow is just as important as final price. Coffee is paid in full upon delivery, and we pay a percentage up front upon contracting.
- We are completely transparent from price to logistics to cupping score, to who we work with buying and shipping coffee.
- We work to set premiums after a contracted price to incentivize quality and community building. This can be .10¢ - .25¢ extra per pound or community projects such as school supplies in the growing village, sports jerseys, vented chimneys for kitchen fires, etc.