Sourcing Coffee For The Collective Good
At Wonderstate Coffee, we don’t rely on labels to make our decisions for us because we don't believe there is any one certification that can account for the complex set of decisions and relationships that are negotiated every time we purchase coffee.
Instead, we put farmers at the center of what we do. We recognize their expertise as well as their right to fair compensation, a democratic voice, and a future in farming that supports the land and their communities. And we’ve crafted a model that honors this foundational premise.
Our ideal coffee is one that is of spectacular quality, is the product of responsible land stewardship and farm management, and contributes to a community model for coffee production that supports a more resilient future. Not all of our coffees can meet this perfect ideal, but by creating benchmarks of expectations within each category and also weighing coffees that might be standouts in one category but fall short in another, we’re able to build a community of partnerships and a diverse offering list of coffees we can stand behind.
MEASURING THE INTEGRITY OF A COFFEE : BREAKING IT DOWN
Taste Experience: How does the coffee perform without context? What is the experience of drinking this coffee?
This one’s pretty straightforward. When we measure the taste experience, we look at how the coffee scores and stacks up against our quality standards when we cup it back at the lab. Most notably we evaluate a coffee for:
- Clarity, sweetness, and balance of the cup
- Traces of good craftsmanship––if the coffee has distinctive markers of quality perceived only by taste, smell or sight
- A unique flavor profile or one particularly well suited to one of our blends
- Consistency and ability to perform well for its intended purposes
- And lastly, if it has that spark––that inexplicable quality that makes us stop and take notice
Ethos & Practices: Is this coffee cultivated, harvested, and processed using a sustainable and thoughtful approach that supports the health and wellbeing of the farm and its producers?
For this measure, we look to the practices and underlying principles of the farms where our coffees are grown and the processing centers where they are washed and dried. A few of the key things we look at include:
- Regenerative agricultural practices
- Ethical worker compensation & treatment
- High quality and consistency in washing, fermenting & drying
- Stringent quality control
- Supply chain transparency, which allows us to be certain are understanding of on-the-ground practices are accurate
Community Impact & Resilience: Does this coffee contribute to a resilient future for coffee and its producer communities––ecologically, economically, and socially
While resilience can be a measure of individual strength, when we’re talking about the future of coffee, we have to measure resilience by how one sourcing partnership contributes to or undercuts the health and vigor of our communities and the broader landscape. Resilience is the hardest measure to evaluate, the one most open to interpretation and evolution. But a few of the questions we ask ourselves include:
- Does the farm’s and/or processing center’s operational structure support a community beyond its bounds? Is it successful in the model it’s pursuing?
- Does this coffee benefit an important producer relationship? Either supporting a longstanding partnership or a new relationship that have particular need for our support
- Is this coffee tethered to any special projects that have a positive impact on the greater community, on a local or global scale?
- Does this coffee contribute to inherited systems of inequity and disempowerment in the coffee industry?
- What is the overall ecological impact and carbon footprint of this coffee?