Hello Coffee, Goodbye Coffee

A new era, what is coffee?, possibilities!

Hey y’all, Sam here! I’m sipping an iced coffee while “vacation” quarantining at a friend’s place in Texas. It’s also technically my honeymoon.. or as much of one as I’ll probably have lol… Peter is running the roastery while I’m away.

We’ve released a new coffee!

This is our first new coffee since the beginning of all this! It’s a big deal for us because it’s also the first coffee we have purchased since the upfront costs of starting espy. Quite literally, we didn’t know if we’d make it this far. And you guys reading this blog are a big reason we’re able to keep going. Thank you! We love roasting coffee, and each new one represents a step forward and a new chapter for us. You can check it out Hunkute here.

Coffee is a plant - let’s talk about it!

Why did Alfeu and Villa Clabelina run out? Can’t you get more?

As we say hello to a new coffee, I wanted to back up and explain why we had to say goodbye to Alfeu and Villa Clabelina.

espy means “to catch a glimpse”. There’s a lot to learn about coffee: how and why it’s cultivated, harvested, processed, transported, roasted, and brewed is an endless journey for us. I often try to start over and rediscover how coffee really works, and I am always catching a glimpse of something I missed before. So let’s talk about some basics!

First and foremost, “coffee” is a name for many things. It’s a beverage, it’s a ground or unground “bean”, it’s a roasted or green seed, a cherry and a plant! The plant genus “coffea” is what we refer to as the coffee tree, or shrub.

These shrubs come in a number of species. The main species you drink everyday is Arabica. Most likely, you’ve also consumed Robusta at some point. There is much to say about those two, and the other 100+ known species of coffee, but we’ll leave it at that for now.

Within Coffea Arabica, there are MANY varieties. Like many companies, we always list the variety on the bag, so you can take note of coffee varieties you really enjoy. There is also a ton to share about what these are, how they have changed, and what they mean, but for now let’s just remember they are all special, and taste different!

Let’s think about this from an agricultural standpoint.

Coffee plants are SUPER sensitive. Period. They don’t like changing climates, they need lots of light, but don’t want full sun all day. They also need water, good soil, and a comfortable space to thrive. Coffee is grown pretty at pretty high altitudes, in part because it’s a more controlled climate. You will find them on hills and mountain sides, mostly on and around the equator. The hills are used to limit direct sunlight and temperature that would otherwise be too harsh.

Coffee is harvested at specific times throughout the year, based on where it’s from. Some countries harvest only once a year, while some do a couple harvests a year. Some can almost perpetually cultivate and harvest year round. This has to do with the climate and geographic features at each origin.

The harvest cycle + our role and responsibility

All this is to say, when we buy coffee from an importer or coffee producer, we try to buy as much as we can sell within the harvest cycle of that coffee. We believe it’s our role and responsibility (no matter how small) to purchase as much coffee as we can from a producer, while ensuring we will be available to purchase the same or more of that coffee the following harvest. This is one important aspect of sustainability down the supply line. Producers obviously want to sell all of their coffee, but one big sale isn’t as important as selling the right amount of coffee repeatedly as it is fresh (and at peak value).

Consumption, price and balance

We think a lot about consumption as it relates to our personal lives and espy’s business practices. Over-consumption being one essential pillar of extractive capitalism, we want to consume only as much as we need. But as the endpoint of a long supply chain, we also want to purchase as much coffee as we can from a coffee grower, so they can confidently move forward with their current and future harvesting investments. It’s about consuming intentionally. We recognize that most of this responsibility falls on the shoulders of our exporter and importer friends (those with both more knowledge and a larger industry footprint). Still, it’s a mindset and practice we think everyone in the industry needs to adopt!

Future sourcing dreams!

So! Will we see Alfeu or Villa Clabelina again? We sure hope so! If not literally those farms or lots of coffee plants, we are interested in continuing purchase relationships with the people and places that have helped us experience the beautiful (and literal) fruit of their labor!