quality

Living Our Values: Why we set the benchmark at 86

The following is a excerpt from our report Collaborative Coffee Source, Living Our Values 2017. Number one on our list of values is "We seek the right quality."

We often describe ourselves as an "86 company," meaning we begin with coffees that score 86 points and work our way up. We felt we should define what that means, why 86 is our benchmark, and what it means for the industry to source high quality coffee.


Defining Quality

We want to define what we mean by the term quality, especially since we claim to find the truly good coffees. We search for quality through screening and scrutinizing, then we articulate the result with a list of the coffee’s flavor attributes, and a numerical score out of 100. CCS sets the bar at 86 points for the coffee we buy. We recognize that this number isn’t self explained, but it is an efficient and simplified way of communicating a starting point for most people in the industry.

The common denominator for an “86” coffee is its clarity, and this means more than clean coffee. Clarity is a sensorial term that describes how a coffee opens and expresses its attributes, usually with the help of a structuring acidity. This combination creates complexity in the cup and many more desired attributes.

Sharing this experience of actually tasting the qualities through cupping is key to understanding and agreeing on a value for a coffee. Thus the point of using a numeric scale to express the quality is also a way to define its monetary value. Premium is a term for the extra money paid for higher quality, which suggests that the starting point is the right one. We disagree, because that level is more often than not too low.

High quality in coffee is the result of a concrete process and a particular craft, it doesn’t just happen. When certain conditions are in place, making a delicious coffee is achievable, but not easy. By setting our benchmark at 86 we mean to honor the honest craftsmanship and care that goes into making a truly special coffee.

Robert

Read the full report.

A coffee picker from Gesha Village, Ethiopia. Just look at that selection!

A coffee picker from Gesha Village, Ethiopia. Just look at that selection!

Living Our Values: Celebrating Quality

The following is a excerpt from our report Collaborative Coffee Source, Living Our Values 2017.

Number one on our list of values is “We seek the right quality.” We use the word "seek" very consciously. We like to think we contribute to the development of quality by sourcing and rewarding quality, but we are well aware that we are not farmers, and can not lay claim to their hard work. However we can celebrate it, and that is the core purpose of events like the CCS Acevedo Cup.

The second CCS Acevedo Cup begins tomorrow and we are very excited to join Fairfield Trading and the community of Acevedo in this celebration. The event was delayed due to late harvests, and the past year was not a great one for coffee growers in Colombia, but we are committed to this group of producers and we will be there to celebrate their great coffees, in good years and bad.

The following story from our report encapsulates why this event is so important to us, and how we in the specialty industry can contribute to the cultivation of quality from afar.


Celebrating Quality

As buyers of specialty green coffee, we are not in a position to advise farmers on the finer points of coffee cultivation, we leave that to the agronomists. Instead, we contribute to the development of quality by celebrating, incentivizing and rewarding quality.

In January 2018 we will run the second CCS Acevedo Cup in Huila, Colombia, with our partners in the region, Fairfield Trading. This cupping competition is an opportunity for roasters and farmers to forge relationships, share experiences and gain knowledge, all great things. But the benefits extend well beyond the event itself.

Firstly, cupping competitions like the Acevedo Cup facilitate collaboration between farmers. Around twenty-five families attended the awards ceremony of the CCS Acevedo Cup 2016. Afterwards, community leaders met with the winners and their neighbors to discuss farm protocols and strategies that could be implemented on farms across the region.

Secondly, the CCS Acevedo Cup offers recognition, both within a farming community and among roasters, of the vision and dedication of the coffee farmers. By holding the event annually, and offering a financial reward to the winners, the CCS Acevedo Cup can be a tool for inspiring and incentivizing producers to improve quality year after year.

“I felt really proud,” said Alexander Ordoñez of Finca Los Naranjos, who won third place in the CCS Acevedo Cup 2016. “My wife and two children accompanied me [to the awards ceremony], and it was a beautiful experience because they are part of the work one does on the farm. And this third place prize motivates me to continue improving so I can win first place.”

Read the full report Collaborative Coffee Source, Living Our Values 2017.

The CCS Acevedo Cup 2016 Awards Ceremony

The CCS Acevedo Cup 2016 Awards Ceremony