The coffee industry hasn’t not been excluded from the challenges of the last year and a half. For our part it was easier for us to navigate those challenges in 2020 than it has been this year. Our contracts were in place and the coffee continued to arrive mostly as normal. We did have some coffees land that didn’t
meet our quality control standards. Most of those never made it into our customers hands. We held off as long as we could last year on shipping increases, but eventually did have to adjust our pricing. Our staff worked hard to make sure orders shipped out on time. While there may have been delays on orders arriving, most of those were due to travel times once shipped and not a backlog on fulfillment on our end.
This year has been harder. The 2020/2021 crops were grown, harvested and processed during the height of the pandemic. Some countries like Brazil had a longer rainy season, which is great for growing coffee, but delayed harvesting about a month. In addition, harvesting itself took longer due to restrictions/safety measures in place. While some areas had the longer rainy season, others in Brazil were hit by drought and then in July frost. Yes, Frost in Brazil. The states of Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo (Mogiana) and Parana were the hardest hit. We’re hearing estimates of 4.5 to 10 million bags in losses.
Colombia is a perfect example of the overall issues the coffee industry has faced. Coffee pickers typically move from one region to another following the harvest. Due to lockdowns and other restrictions, producers couldn’t rely on coffee pickers. Instead, they had to pick their own coffee, relying on friends
and family to help. They also had a shift where the dollar was very strong and the peso very weak. So they were picking as fast as they could and taking the coffee to sell as quickly as they could. While this was good for the producers, it created a quality issue. In a normal year we’d normally see 5 quakers in a
sample. This year it’s more common to see 10-15 quakers in that same sample size. In addition, Colombia was in a state of National Strike, which started in early May and continued through the end of June. This strike severely impacted the supply chain. Roads were blocked, ports completely closed, creating a backlog of exports.
Overall, we’ve seen shipments that normally take a week or two on the water, end up taking 60 days or longer. We’ve seen shipments sit at port, waiting to make it onto a boat. We’ve seen coffees that are normally so clean you could eat off the burlap, arrive infested and have to be completely discarded.
Most of our customer base is the home coffee roaster. Some of you buying a single pound at a time. So we take quality control VERY seriously. If there is an issue, you’ll notice it. Plus we know our coffee ends up in your kitchen, your homes. We don’t want to be the reason you end up with a pantry moth
infestation. So once the coffee lands, we’re not only doing our normal inspections and cupping, but we’re going over the bags and sometimes completely re-bagging entire shipments, just to prevent any possible issues with hitchhikers in the burlap. While pests don’t generally like caffeine they do like the burlap and nice warm environment created with 150 pounds of coffee.
We’ve had a few favorite coffees that have gotten pushed back. Girlfrend Decaf is one such coffee. When it arrived back from being decaffeinated the cupping quality wasn’t there. The entire lot had to be discarded. Now we’re waiting for new green to arrive to start the process over. It maybe October or November before we will have more Girlfren available. Felucca Blend is another favorite and we’d expected some green to arrive from East Africa in July. It’s looking more like late September or into October now.
The good news is we have quite a few coffees that will be available soon. The bad news is that we can’t guarantee your favorites will be in that release, or even available this year. Please reach out to us with questions. We’re happy to discuss specific coffee with you. Make recommendations for replacements,
etc. We love coffee, and love sharing new and unique flavors from all over the world. While it feels like the hits keep coming, we’re trying to focus on the positive. Finding new partners and diamonds in the rough, while continuing to support our existing partners while they also try to navigate these difficult