What Quality Means to Us
If there’s one thing we want you to know about our team, it’s that we’re experts with an uncompromising taste for quality. We know—we use the word "quality" a lot. But that’s because we believe it encompasses everything we do as a company.
We source coffees from high-altitude microclimates supported by a precise balance of soil composition, moderate temperatures, sufficient rainfall, and abundant sunlight. The producers we partner with work rigorously within these precise conditions to grow, pick, and process their coffee to the highest standards.
As Maria Bercelia Martinez, owner of the coffee farm Finca Los Angeles, told us in Parchment Vol. 001, “To yield a good quality product, you have to have excellent cherry selection. We make sure [to select] only ripe cherry.” Discerning pickers are critical for this stage, as harvesting is done entirely by hand and must take place within a small window of ripeness to capture peak flavor. Read more here on what goes into processing high-quality coffee at Finca Los Angeles.
After selecting our coffees, we perform quality-control checks at each stage: before it ships, once it lands at port, before we roast, and every week after it joins our menu. From measuring water activity levels in the green coffee to roasting sample batches for qualitative evaluation, from training new roasters to creating roast profiles for each coffee, Warwick Mayn, our Director of Roasting and Quality Control, keeps a well-trained and critical eye on it all. Learn more here about how Warwick approaches his work.
Storage is another component critical to quality: just like roasted coffee, green coffee needs to be kept away from warm air and direct sunlight. Even with the best roasting techniques, coffee will fall flat if it’s left out for too long at improper temperatures. We use industrial freezers for all our long-term green coffee storage.
When it finally comes time to brew, we adhere to a few basic principles, which we instill in every barista and café owner we work with. While we ship or deliver all of our coffee orders as soon as they’re roasted, the coffee we keep to brew ourselves is stored in a cool, dark, dry place so that the volatile gasses that build up after roasting can dissipate—a few days for pour-over or filter coffee, at least a week for espresso.
Since a cup of coffee is mostly water, we use the cleanest-tasting water we can find. We prefer soft water, filtered or from a spring source, and avoid distilled water, which lacks the trace minerals required for flavorful extraction. We always grind our coffee fresh using a carefully maintained and calibrated burr grinder. Throughout the brew process, scales and timers help us ensure consistency from one cup to the next. You can find more of our tips for brewing a quality cup in our brew guides here.
These standards are so routine that they’re often unspoken within our team. But for 2022 we’re bringing them back to the forefront. We’re currently in the process of building a dedicated quality control lab and training space, the better to keep honing our product and empowering burgeoning baristas by giving them the best skills in the industry. We’re doubling down on internal education too, so our growing team will stay a step ahead. And, as always, we’re tailoring continual education and quality control to our partners’ ventures in order to ensure their long-term growth and success as well.
Ultimately, we believe that quality and respect go hand in hand. Our standards are high because we know just how difficult it is to produce exceptional coffee, and we do our best to be not only good vendors to our customers, but also good stewards of a better food system. We respect our product, our process, and every person who makes it possible.