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Why is Cup Quality Now More Important than Ever?

December 20, 2023

In a very simplified diagram of how the specialty industry works, the buyer pays the producer according to the cup quality. At the very end, quality is constituted by the preferences of the buyer’s consumers, with him/her ideally having the credit to shape these proclivities up to a limited extent.

2022 brought a nasty crisis in the coffee world, with skyrocketing prices affecting every party in the chain. Coffee producers also face a shortage of labor – over the past two years, we have regularly encountered views of unpicked, overripe fruit left on the trees within whole sectors. 

Aggressive price hikes, lack of labor in several origin countries and the inevitable slowdown of the Western world market are the huge causes of producers’ increased production costs. We’re all facing so many concerns right now!

That might be counterintuitive, but in many cases the cost of production of an amazingly performing, 87+ microlot is almost the same as that of a decent, mild 84-ish blender. Under the current system and economical “weather” it is notorious that the producer sells the lower-scoring, yet still very decent and clean specialty coffee at or even BELOW the cost of production. Hence a major part of that higher price for a fancy micro-lot is not actually rewarding the producer, but compensating his loss with the other lot. 

Many people use the word “sustainability” on a regular basis, but its definition in the context of specialty coffee is probably more difficult and complex to grasp than the idea of quantum entanglement 😉

Our Roasting Tips are brought to you by Piotr Jeżewski (88 Graines Q Grader & Sourcing Director)

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