Where to begin? I’ve been roasting coffee for about three years now. Why roast, Paige? It started as a money saving, good stewardship thing. Coffee is grown in the poorest parts of the world, and buying good coffee can help sustain good communities. But for every exchange of hands: from farmers, to green, to roaster, to shop, to your cup, the price goes up linearly 3x-4x.
$1 per pound –> $3 green –> $9 roasted –> to like a million dollars for a Frappaccino
$1 per pound is not a fair trade price. The same way I shop at local businesses, buy second hand clothes, and since I drink coffee everyday, I wanted to make good coffee decisions.
In Boston, I investigated all the specialty coffee places (new and old ones were popping up like every week), stumptown, intelligentsia, blue state, fuel, and George Howell. George Howell is the man, and he schooled me on this whole “fair trade” “organic” business. Buying fair trade and organic is a good way to insure good coffee, but it’s at a cost to the growers for the label. THE LABEL. You might be fair trade, i.e. buying coffee for a very fair price, and/or organic, i.e. not using certain pesticides, etc., but until you buy that label…Nobody cares. Well, some buyers do, and if you buy from a specialty store claiming “direct trade” – no middle fair trade person, then it’s probably pretty great. Though, I’m pretty sure even that term is Trade Marked now… At Sweet Maria’s they call their direct trade program “Farm Gate” and you can read about it here.
Most, if not all, specialty coffee is going to be bought at a fair price and not using pesticides because they care about the cup.
So, I’m buying my two weeks worth of roasted coffee at like, $15-20 per pound (really like 12oz) from a local roaster in Florida who gets his beans directly from a coffee farmer in a coffee shop that is half a pentecostal church, and I feel good about it. Yeah, it’s still cheaper than buying out, but it’s still too expensive. I make a quick jump from buying fancy coffee to roasting my own fancy coffee.
I started roasting, and I was amazed at how insanely easy and cost efficient it is to make an outstanding cup of coffee. And I will write about that in the next post.
If you want to learn (and buy) more about roasting your own coffee, pretty much anything and everything about coffee, you should check out Sweet Maria’s. They are a business based in San Francisco and all their green coffee and gear is outstanding.
Also, I love all the Seattle Coffee Gear videos if you want to learn about all coffee gadgets.