Brazil: Commodity vs Specialty Grade?

Backyard Brew Coffee Co. Copyright BACKYARD BREW COFFEE CO.·MONDAY, JUNE 03, 2019
What really is the difference between Commodity Grade and Speciality Coffee?

A coffee that scores 80 or above out of 100 is classified as specialty grade coffee. Specialty grade coffees are higher in quality and traceable. Certified Q-Graders will determine the cup score of a coffee by aroma, flavour and the quality of the cup. It is only natural that the higher the quality, the more we, as coffee roasters, will be willing to pay for the coffee. Quality and weight are factored into the price along with ethical farming practices. Dont assume that gourmet and premium coffees are always associated with higher grade coffees as these are loose terms which hold very little meaning.  I was very excited to learn about Eduardo from Marunic Trading at the Cape Town coffee festival this year. He imports traceable, high cupping coffee from Brazil to South Africa.  Usually, if a small South African roastery wants to have access to this level of quality Brazilian coffee, there needs to be a willingness to travel directly to Brazil and investigate personally.

So why does access to traceable, specialty grade Brazilian coffee matter?

As Brazil is the largest coffee producing nation, they are responsible for a third of the coffee produced and are keen to increase their stakes. To reach these incredible quantities, mechanical harvesting is implemented. The problem with this method is that unripe coffee cherries often get harvested along with the ripe ones resulting in lower quality coffee. Commodity grade coffee typically fetches a lower price as it is in abundance. The flavour is not memorable and it contains more defects. Generally speaking, commodity grade coffee is not traceable because certification is another area where money can be saved. But this is where the problem comes in: Coffee that is not traceable can sometimes be sourced from farms paying their workers minimum wage (or less) - often violating human rights, using forced labour, debt bondage, degrading conditions and long working hours (terms we associate with slave labour)  The idea of producing coffee as cheaply as possible is horrific because it exploits people.

Our approach to ethically traded coffee

We are very pleased to be stocking Brazil Arvoredo.  Not only does it leave a pleasant taste on the palate but also on the conscience. Personally, I have never before seen such high quality Brazilian coffee in South Africa that is traceable.  Typical cup profile: Fruits, nuts, chocolate, low acidity and white sugar.  We enjoy this coffee as a medium roast brewed in a filter machine.

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