Artisan coffees are created when the grower is willing to take the extra steps to ensure quality results, and the roaster is willing to pay the premium price necessary to support quality.
Artisan coffees evolve from sustainable farm practices which include a respect for the habitat and good production values at each stage: meticulous selection, milling and drying of the raw hand-picked coffee at origin, and careful crafting of the coffee into a finished form by the roaster.
Artisan coffee roasting is a marriage of science and sensibility. The science involves controlling the roasting medium via the roasters knowledge of the roasting machine, the raw product (green beans) and the roaster’s visual and tasting sensibility.
Distinguish, differentiate, define: these are the guiding words of a new generation of artisan coffee growers who will influence the future of boutique coffee. Modeling the wine industry, artisan growers are promoting their “terroir” and distinguishing themselves by finding ways to differentiate their harvest. They are exerting more control over their coffee, defining it by micro-region, varietal (coffee plant) and milling method. This approach is a radical departure from the custom of selling one’s harvest to middlemen, who then mill and blend it anonymously with other coffee from the region prior to export.
Taking ownership of the milling process is a critical step towards producing a boutique coffee. Artisan growers are investing in state-of-the art micro-mills that allow them to “design” their coffee and separate it into micro-lots with different characteristics. This step improves the quality of the coffee, enhances the attributes of terroir, and, adds a signature flavor that artisan roasters prize.