To create a great coffee experience, while remaining ethically and environmentally sound, we have created our own unique supply chain. We call this the Crop2Cup™ method. Crop2Cup is a program developed in the early stages of AGRODEV (our partnering NGO). The purpose is to create a fair and transparent journey from farmers to consumers. By building this direct path from seedling to a fresh cup of coffee, we ensure that every person involved in the production, trade, and sale of our coffee is treated and paid fairly. Our customers are constantly exposed to the top 2% of coffee grown around the world. Through our story telling you can see, feel, and taste the benefits of the connections we make together in choosing this approach.
Long before Agro came to Vanocuver, we established AGRODEV, an international non-governmental organization based in East Africa working to ensure farmers are paid a fair wage as we work with them to convert their farms to certified organic status. By paying farmers a fair price for their beans, we are encouraging them to produce a higher quality, more environmentally sound coffee. We wanted to be sure we could trade fairly and directly with small-scale producers in developing countries, providing our customers with a direct link between the farmer and the customer. The farmer is the very beginning of an amazing cup of coffee, and Crop2Cup allows us to feature them in their rightful place at the top of the production chain. Our position, whether as coffee roasters, baristas, or coffee drinkers, depends entirely on the fruits of the farmers labour.
Our coffee is generally grown by small-scale farmers on 5-7 acres of land. The coffee plant produces round red 'cherries', each of which contains two oval seeds. Our cherries are picked exclusively by hand while the fruit is at it's peak of perfection, instead of machine picked where green berries can get caught into the mix. Red berries, with a higher aromatic oil and lower organic acid content are more fragrant, smooth, and mellow. The farmers and community laborers collect the cherries in large sacks when the cherries are the right shade of red.
At this point, the cherries go through a lengthy process of de-pulping to extract the green coffee bean inside; fermentation, wet and dry processing, before being put through our rigorous quality control process of 'cupping'. This is where our producer partners take representative samples from each coffee harvest and send them to us for approval.
Once approved, the coffee is milled, sorted for defects, sized, bagged for shipment, and put on a ship to Canada to be transformed into roasted coffee.
The beans are roasted on site in East Vancouver so there is the shortest distance between the fresh roasted coffee and you. When roasted, the green coffee bean expands to nearly double its size, changing in color and density. As the bean absorbs heat in our roaster, the color shifts to a yellowish color and then to a light "cinnamon" brown, before "cracking" just like popcorn at home.
At lighter roasts, the bean will show more of its origin's flavor, the flavors created in the bean by the soil and weather conditions in the location where it was grown. Coffee beans from famous regions like Sumatra and Kenya are roasted lightly so that their signature characteristics dominate your palate. As beans darken to a deep brown, the origin flavors of the bean are humbled by the flavors created by the roasting process itself.
Our coffee is roasted to bring out the finest characteristics in each bean and provide the intoxicating aroma of freshly roasted coffee to our patrons. We combine art and science to determine the proper roast for each single origin coffee. Roasting onsite allows us to link the coffee lover closer to the source and also encourage education on the crop to cup practices employed by Agro Roasters. Through roasting on site we also reduce the negative impact that continuous transportation of coffee has on the environment.
Finally, the coffee is ready for you to be brewed and enjoyed. In store our experienced and talented Baristas will ensure your beverage is made in a way that highlights the journey of each bean from seed to cup. When brewing at home, please honor the beans by brewing properly. For brew guides click here.
Photo by Alison Ensworth.