Monday, January 31, 2011

What Happens After Coffee Is Exported From Its Country Of Origin?

So in the last couple of Nicaragua blog posts about coffee farms, Beneficios and transportation, I wrote about what happens before the coffee even makes it to the roasting shop. In the next couple of blogs, I'm going to take a look at what happens when the green coffee gets to Mocha Joe's. Coffee is almost always transported on a cargo ship. This can cause a lot of problems if the transportation doesn't happen quickly. Sometimes coffee will get stuck in a shipping container at some port and the humidity can damage the quality of the coffee because coffee has traditionally been stored and transported in natural fiber bags, such as burlap or jute. Most of the time there is no problem with these natural fiber bags and most coffee is still packaged that way but when there is a problem, a whole shipment of coffee can be lost.

Natural Fiber Bags
One way of addressing this problem is the use of GrainPro SuperGrainbags. These "hermetically sealed" bags create a low oxygen and high carbon dioxide environment, so that the coffee can be as fresh as possible when it reaches the United States and can be stored for a significantly longer period of time without organic degradation. GrainPro and other special bags have saved many coffee shipments from spoil and eliminate the "baggy" quality of some cups of coffee that have been sitting too long. They are usually used inside the traditional natural fiber bags.

GrainPro Bag Inside A Natural Fiber Bag
Once the coffee makes it into the United States, it is often stored in special facilities with controlled climates. A lot of smaller roasters don't have the space to store the amount of coffee they import or even the means to import coffee on their own. Companies like Cafe Imports get the coffee into the United States and store it in their warehouses. Coffee Roasters can either purchase coffee currently available in the warehouse or place an order for a future shipment. I honestly don't know much about the export/import process but it does involve a lot of bureaucracy, legalities, logistics and documentation. Coffee import and storage companies are a must for coffee roasters that don't have the tools necessary to do it themselves.

Our green coffee arrives by truck and we unload it by hand. We usually get a couple of bags of each coffee at a time and store it in our roasting shop. That's one way that we make sure that the coffee we roast is always fresh and constantly rotating. Next up, sample roasting, cupping and production roasts!


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