Working with an importer saves the inconvenience and risk of buying green coffee beans straight from a farm. These pros know where to get quality coffee from around the world.
Buying directly from a farmer has a higher level of risk. One of the key advantages of buying coffee from an importer is that they guarantee the quality of the coffee you receive.
If the weather is poor, consider purchasing your beans somewhere else. Providing consistent quality coffee from a single farm is tough. The environmental conditions of the growth season make each coffee lot distinctive. There's a chance the coffees you've previously ordered are no longer available.
Even if you buy your coffee beans from a farm, you'll still have to pay for the shipping costs to get them to you. You have no control over how farmers are treating the roasting.
The key variations between coffee-producing countries are the soil, elevation, and temperature.
High-quality coffee requires fertile land. Higher soil fertility improves yields and disease resistance in coffee plants, especially Arabica beans, which are prone to diseases like leaf rust. The fertility of a soil is determined by its volcanic ash, clay, and/or limestone content. As an example, volcanic ash adds precious minerals like cristobalite and tridymite. Similar to wine grape farming, the nutrients in a soil affect a plant's health and the flavor of its fruit.
L'altitude and soil conditions of a farm directly affect the flavor characteristic of coffee grown there. Because altitude impacts temperature, which affects a plant's ability to take nutrients from the soil. Higher heights and cooler temperatures allow coffee plants to photosynthesize longer. For bigger and healthier cherry, the plant needs more nitrogen from the soil. The end result is a sweet firm coffee bean. Plants that receive less nutrients due to poor soil or harsher growth conditions generate softer beans with lower sugar content.
There are, however, exceptions. Hawaiian coffee is grown at low elevations due to the island chain's location far north of the equator and adequate shelter to protect plants from the sun.
Storage is critical to ensuring the quality of your beans. Your importer's transportation practices, including temperature during shipment, shipping time, and product handling.
If an importer's minimum is more than your capacity to roast or store, you risk wasting money and product.
Availability of beans from specific origins is also vital. Keep in mind that lots can vary greatly based on season, environment, and politics.
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