Like with many other fresh foods there are a lot of benefits to buying seasonal coffee, but seasonality in coffee can be confusing. For a start, the equatorial regions don’t have four seasons like we do in our latitudes. They generally have a dry season and a rainy season and talk about the advent of the first rains (which triggers the buds to blossom) as being their Spring and the end of the dry season being the end of Summer! Once the blossom has been pollinated, small green cherries begin to form, which then usually takes 7 – 11 months to ripen into harvestable coffee cherries.
As a result of all this, most coffee growing countries have one harvest a year, apart from a small number of origins situated closer to the equator (Kenya, Colombia, Sumatra) which have two harvests a year, a main crop and a fly crop. Once the coffee is harvested, it is processed. This involves the careful separation of the coffee cherry's pulp from its inner seed (or bean), then a slow drying process until the bean reaches a moisture content of 12.5%.
Coffee is then bagged and stored at origin with its own natural, protective casing (called parchment) still in tact, maintaining the same moisture level until it is ready to be hulled and shipped to us. Once the green beans arrive here at the roastery a few months later the coffee is at its best, packed full of complex flavours and aromas which we coax out at the final stages of roasting and brewing. Though the green coffee is at its optimum for around 6-9 months its moisture level will begin to slowly drop off as it dries out and oxidises. This process takes different amounts of time depending on the coffee, altitude and processing but after 12 months the coffee then slips into past crop by which time a lot of flavour has faded and we can start taste a lot more woody notes, and not in a good way!
For this reason, we always aim to bring coffees in as they come into season and run coffees down before they start to fade, ensuring each coffee is at its best for the optimum amount of time. For some filter coffees this means that you're getting all those light, citrusy, floral flavours before they drop off and for espresso roasts you can expect that high moisture content to translate through to a full bodied, syrupy mouthfeel without any bitterness which can prevail in older green coffees. To get an idea of what coffees are best to expect when take a look at the lists below and keep your eyes peeled for some fresh crops coming your way soon!
Northern Hemisphere Coffees
These coffees will be harvested in the Autumn/Winter, available in our Spring/Summer time.
Southern Hemisphere Coffees
These coffees will be harvested in the Spring/Summer, available in our Autumn/Winter time.