Coffee is not often thought of as a fresh crop like fruits and vegetables. However, each coffee growing region has its peak harvesting seasons and once picked and processed the coffee will begin its inevitable decline where its original vibrancy slowly fades away. Spring and early summer are some of the most exciting months for coffee lovers, where in-season Kenyans, Ethiopians and Guatemalans begin to make their way into the states. By the time green coffee reaches our shop, there has already been a huge amount of labor and care put into these beans. Roasting and extracting are the last links in this large chain and so it’s very important to us that we highlight each region’s inherent qualities as to show off these growers’ hard work. When roasting our African selections, we want to bring out the clean acidity and amplify the sweetness. In other words, we want these coffees to taste more like fruit juice. Where as with our Central American selections, we want these to be well balanced with equal parts cocoa, spice and fruit-like characteristics.
This style of roasting falls within the category of what people in the industry call “third wave” coffee. It’s your farmers market within a world of massive grocery stores, where you can typically be assured that the quality of your produce has been ethically grown with both environmental and social responsibility put as priority and in return the flavor of the produce is able to reach its full potential. One issue is that most of the world’s best coffees comes from developing countries where there exists a large amount of de-facto organic coffee producers who can’t always make the process of certification their priority for various reasons. We, like many other coffee professionals, recognize that sustainable products can be produced without having certifications. You can walk into a chain coffee shop or grocery store and find coffees with all sorts of labeling, however this doesn’t always mean that these coffees are void of corruption, nor does it mean the product will taste any better. Another issue lies in the fact that mass market coffee companies can pick up words, phrases and labeling from third wave coffee companies and use it as a means of marketing. The beer industry has currently seen these same sort of issues, where large beer companies will buy out microbreweries, yet are still marketed as coming from a smaller more sustainable producer. We’ve seen these labels being misused all the time and it has unfortunately just really confused coffee consumers.
Here at Case, we strive to educate our customers factually and accurately on the vastly complex state of the coffee industry while serving what we think are some of the world’s best coffees. We admit that coffee is just as much of an art as it is a science and subjectivity will have to be taken into account. Some people really like our juicy and sweet African coffees and love to drink them black. However, some people prefer our more robust, chocolate-like Central American Coffees that pair perfectly with cream. It’s truly a place for both the coffee lovers and coffee nerds alike.