company - education - coffee

Thursday, February 12, 2009

About a label

This is not the first version of our labels and it won't be the last. Currently though, our main goal is to have a label that is simple and transparent.

The origin takes a secondary place to the farm name/blend name but is still noted. Below, you have some simple color coded info on the processing and other identifiers about the coffee such as region or coop. We have been emphatic about transparency for blends and are adamant about percentages on the bags. We are glad to see other roasters taking the same tact in the US market. We have not put certifications such as Fair Trade or Organic on the relevant bags for many reasons.

At the recent NERBC, I was confounded by a company rep pitching a Kenya that was sourced through 'the second window'. I was a bit confused because it almost sounded like he was pitching it as a recent coffee but that 'second window' hasn't appeared yet for this harvest so the Kenya had to be approaching a full year off harvest and I guarantee it wasn't vacuum sealed so add jute bagged to the equation. It reminded me vintage is relevant and we need to rethink noting which coffees are sealed at origin because past crop has a different meaning if the coffee was in jute as opposed to sealed.

Anyway, we have blocked off a small section of the bag for brewing instructions. In most cases, this is just a suggested guideline to help consumers out. You would be surprised how simply having 27 seconds on the bag can induce many customers to ask, 'How do I get the shot to 27 seconds?' That's an incredibly powerful moment where many doors open that lead to better coffee at home. Most machines don't have solid temperature controls but it helps to have a ballpark target to offset around so we included specific brew temps and also dose.

While not every consumer will have the equipment to follow the specs, we felt generic specs were a bad idea. On Poker face, the specs are pretty much what Nik uses at Taste, for Linnaean St. it's the specs Simon uses. You can probably pull those coffees a dozen ways but I always think of a consumer walking into a cafe or tasting, having a shot, then getting frustrated about not being able to repeat it at home. Believe me, I was there many a time. Having the specs helps and I have a lot of emails from home espresso enthusiasts where the discussions have gone from getting a new grinder to flushing routines and dosing technique. All of which is good discussion to have if they want to come close to the cafe experience.