COFFEE FRESHNESS PART ONE: HARVEST


There are many variables that play into the quality of the final cup of coffee that we all enjoy. In some of our previous blog posts, we’ve discussed how brewing can greatly alter how a coffee tastes. But before the final brew, there are a lot of other things to consider. This post is part one of a two part series about the role that coffee harvest and roast freshness play into the final product. In this part of the series, we’ll briefly discuss some of the ways that coffee harvest influences the quality of coffee. 

To begin, it’s important to recognize that coffee is an agricultural product. Like other fruits, coffee must be harvested at the correct time in order for it to be properly enjoyed. If coffee is harvested too soon, it is underripe, and lacks the sweetness and complexity that time and photosynthesis impart on it. Conversely, if a coffee is harvested too late, it becomes overripe, often leading to unpleasant notes of over fermentation. 

But what happens in the coffee’s life cycle, and when, to cause these quality issues?

PICKING & CHERRY RIPENESS

How long a coffee stays on the tree is vital to its development, and so is the color that the cherries are picked at. Varieties of coffee that are red are often picked at a stage often referred to as “sangre de toro,” or “bull’s blood.” When many varieties of coffee reach this rich hue of red, it is clear that they have developed to the point of ripeness and are ready to be harvested. However, not all coffee has red skin, so this doesn’t apply to all coffees. For example, some varieties are pink, while others are yellow. Pickers use varying levels of intensity of color to know when is the best time to pick a coffee. 

SORTING

Once coffee cherries are harvested, they must be sorted to ensure that underripes, overripes, and foreign matter such as twigs are removed from the ripe cherries. Cherries are often sorted with water, as ripe cherries sink due to their density, while coffees that float, known as “floaters,” do not. Once the cherries are sorted, they are purposed based on their classification/quality. Ripe cherries flow through the additional following steps, while the “floaters” are often sent straight to patios. 

PROCESSING

Once cherries have been sorted, they are processed using an array of methods. If a coffee is washed or honey process, it is depulped, a process by which the skin of the cherry is removed before fermentation. Natural processed coffees leave the skin on the cherry, and forego pulping. Whether the coffee is pulped or not, it then undergoes a fermentation process. The tanks are filled with water, which helps remove the mucilage (the sticky fruit that surrounds the coffee bean) before the coffee is dried. Many natural processed coffees little to no water, depending on whether they are pulped or dry naturals, allowing the fermentation to happen inside of the cherry. If fermentation happens too quickly or is too drawn out, the quality of the coffee can suffer. From not tasting well developed to tasting over fermented, there is a lot that can go wrong in this stage of any given coffee’s life cycle and shelf life. 

Once the coffee has undergone some type of fermentation, it is dried. Common forms of drying are on raised beds, patios, and in guardiolas (large agricultural driers). As with the other stages, timing is crucial when it comes to drying, and if note done properly, the quality, and especially the shelf-life, are greatly impacted. If you don’t dry a coffee long enough or fail to turn it over frequently during drying, you risk having too high of water activity. High levels of water activity promote the growth of things such as bacteria and mold, which is not a desirable outcome. If you dry a coffee too long, you risk a shorter shelf-life due to potentially very low moisture content. 

Though this list was brief, these are a few of the many ways that coffee harvesting and processing influence the final product. Stay tuned for our next post in this series, which will explore how roast freshness and storage influences the final cup! And to try some of the fruits of the harvesting labor, click the button below to shop our Farm to Cup coffees with free carbon neutral shipping.

SOURCES CITED:
Hoffmann, James. The World Atlas of Coffee: From Beans to Brewing: Coffees Explored, Explained and Enjoyed., 2016. Print.
http://www.coffeeresearch.org/agriculture/processing.htm

SHOP FARM TO CUP COFFEE
At Stone Creek Coffee, social responsibility is a foundational element of our identity. We believe that a commitment to the environment must coexist with other elements of social responsibility for a holistic approach to doing our best for the world and others.

Stone Creek Coffee will regularly audit and identify areas of environmental strength and weakness within the overall operations of the organization.  We will attempt to reduce any negative impacts to air, surface water, ground water, public health, community quality of life, and employee health while producing coffee that is sweet, clean, and juicy. Stone Creek Coffee will strive for continual improvement in pollution prevention while meeting or exceeding all regulations.

Jessica Sheridan, Director of Coffee 
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As a mission-driven company, at Stone Creek Coffee, we believe in serving and enhancing the local communities we live and work in.

We believe that the socially responsible practices we apply daily in our internal operations can proliferate with the involvement of our stakeholders, customers, and our communities. In each community where our employees work and live, we — as Stone Creek Coffee and individual members of the community — actively create opportunities to play a positive role through various initiatives. These initiatives include support of important charitable organizations through monetary and/or material donations, promoting volunteerism, and more.

In line with our mission to be socially responsible, we also commit to the following: 

Serving Local Customers
  • We commit to serve at least 75% local and independent clients or customers. 
  • Local Hiring - As a company that is committed to its local community, at Stone Creek Coffee, we are also committed to local hiring.
  • Local Suppliers - We are committed to using local suppliers when possible.

Jessica Sheridan, Director of Coffee 
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SUPPLIER CODE OF CONDUCT

At Stone Creek Coffee, social responsibility is a foundational aspect of our identity. As such, we expect our partners and suppliers to conduct themselves and their business in an ethical, legal, and socially responsible manner including, but not limited to, their commitment to the environment, their employees, and the community. 

Legal Requirements

We expect that all suppliers know and follow the laws that apply to them and their business, as well as to treat the law as the minimum standard. 

Ethical Requirements - Integrity

At Stone Creek Coffee, we believe in conducting business with integrity and as a force for good. We expect our suppliers to operate fairly and ethically. Bribes, kickbacks, inappropriate gifts or hospitality, or other improper incentives in connection with Stone Creek Coffee are not tolerated. Suppliers are expected to avoid any conflict of interest relating to financial interests or other arrangements with our employees that may be considered inappropriate, and are to work with their own suppliers to promote business conduct consistent with the principles in this Code.

Labor Requirements 

Child Labor and Slavery - We do not tolerate child labor or slavery in our supply chain. Consistent with the United Nations Global compact principles, suppliers should avoid any sort of child labor in the business operations. 

Identification of Concerns - Suppliers are required to provide means for their employees to report concerns or potentially unlawful activities in the workplace. Any report should be treated in a confidential manner. Suppliers will investigate such reports and take corrective action if needed.

Wages and Working Conditions

Working Hours, Wages and Benefits - Working hours for suppliers’ employees will not exceed the maximum set by the applicable national law. Compensation paid to employees will comply with applicable national wage laws and ensure an adequate standard of living. Suppliers are expected to provide their employees with fair and competitive compensation and benefits. Compensation and benefits should aim at providing an adequate standard of living for employees and their families. Suppliers’ employees will be paid in a timely manner. It is recommended that suppliers offer their employees ample training and educational opportunities.

Diversity and Inclusion - Fair and equal treatment of all employees is expected to be a fundamental principle of all of our supplier’s corporate policies. Typical discriminatory treatment takes into consideration – consciously or unconsciously – irrelevant characteristics of an employee such as race, national origin, gender, age, physical characteristics, social origin, disability, religion, family status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or any unlawful criterion under applicable law. Suppliers will ensure that their employees are not harassed in any way. Stone Creek Coffee encourages its suppliers to provide an inclusive and supportive working environment while exercising diversity when it comes to their employees as well as in their decisions to select subcontractors.

Health, Safety, Quality, and Security

Health and Safety - In order to provide dignity and respect, we expect all of our suppliers to protect workers’ rights and provide safe and healthy working conditions. We encourage our supplier partners to foster an environment that is inclusive, and free of harassment and discrimination. 

Emergency Preparedness, Risk Information, and Training - Suppliers will make available safety information on identified workplace risks and suppliers’ employees will be correspondingly trained to ensure they are adequately protected. Suppliers will identify and assess likely and potential emergency situations in the workplace and minimize their impact by implementing emergency plans and response procedures.

Quality and Security - Suppliers are expected to have good security practices across their supply chains. Suppliers will maintain processes and standards that are designed to assure the integrity of each shipment to Stone Creek Coffee from its origin through to its destination and all points in between. Suppliers are expected to implement the necessary and appropriate measures in their area of responsibility to ensure that Stone Creek Coffee products, their workable components or raw materials as well as the corresponding know-how do not end up in the hands of counterfeiters or third parties and do not leave the legal supply chain.

Environmental Awareness 

Waste and Emissions - Suppliers will have systems in place to ensure the safe handling, movement, storage, recycling, reuse and management of waste, air emissions and wastewater discharges. Any of these activities that have the potential to adversely impact human or environmental health will be appropriately managed, measured, controlled and handled prior to release of any substance into the environment. Suppliers will have systems in place to prevent or mitigate accidental spills and releases into the environment.

Resource Conservation and Climate Protection - Suppliers are expected to use natural resources (e.g. water, sources of energy, raw materials) n an economical way. Negative impacts on the environment and climate will be minimized or eliminated at their source or by practices such as the modification of production, maintenance and facility processes, material substitution, conservation, recycling and material reutilization. Suppliers will engage in the development and use of climate-friendly products and processes to reduce power consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Preference to Purchase from Local Suppliers and Suppliers with Ownership from Underrepresented Populations - At Stone Creek Coffee, we are committed to our community and the environment. As such, we have a preference to purchase from local suppliers when possible, as well as to purchase from suppliers who support other local suppliers. We also give preferences to suppliers with ownership from underrepresented populations.

Supplier Audits and Record Keeping - In order to make responsible, well-informed business decisions and disclose truthful and timely information to our stakeholders, we expect our supplier partners to maintain accurate and honest records.  In line with this, we expect our supplier partners to do the following: maintain books and records that reflect all transactions in an accurate, honest, and timely way; employ appropriate quality audit and compliance processes for matters such as product and food safety, worker health and safety, and labor and employment; to enable traceability, disclose the location of facilities and known origins of materials upon request/audit.

When screening potential suppliers, we screen for the following:
  1. Compliance with all local laws and regulations, including those related to social and environmental performance
  2. Good governance, including policies related to ethics and corruption, as well as diversity and inclusion
  3. Positive practices beyond what is required by regulations (e.g. environmentally-friendly manufacturing process, excellent labor practices, performance to the Core Commitments, etc.)
  4. Third-party certifications related to positive social and/or environmental performance (B Corp certification, Bird Friendly, etc.)
  5. Local suppliers should be given preference (within 250 miles of Factory)
  6. Suppliers owned by underrepresented populations should be given preference

Jessica Sheridan, Director of Coffee 

SUPPLIER LIST:
Aeropress
Ally Coffee
Alto Cold Brew
Amazon Business
American Solutions for Business
Ascentives
Atlas Coffee
AUI Fine Foods
Badger Distributing of Milwaukee LLC
Bodum USA
Boelter Companies
Britevision Media
BUNN
Cafe Imports
Caravela Coffee
Carmo Coffee
Champaign Coffee Company
Chemex Corporation
Clover Distribution
Complete Office of WIsconsin
Component Design
DWC Specialties
Economy Lamp Co
Englehardt Dairy
Espresso Parts
Evolve Snacking
Exclusive Coffees
FETCO
Flair Flexible Packaging Corp
Genuine Origin Coffee
Good Land Supply Co
Gordon Food Service
Grandstand
Gravity Marketing
Great American Spice Company
Greco & Sons
Green Bay Packaging
Halo Soap LLC
InterAmerican Coffee
Kallas Honey Farm
La Marzocco USA
Long Miles Coffee Int Ltd
Magellan Promotions, LLC
Marich Confectionery
Meadowlark Organics
Milwaukee Candle Company
Natures Flavors
NKG (Neumann Kaffee Gruppe)
notNuetral
Occhetti Foods
Olam Specialty Coffee
Omanhene Cocoa Bean Co.
Online Labels
Orchard Street Press
PBFY Flexible Packaging
Plant Guru
Polaris Specialty Coffee
Premium Water
Rishi Tea
Rockline
Royal Coffee
San Miguel Single Origin Coffees (Green Power Trade Inc.)
Sassy Cow Creamery
Shared Source Coffee
Sleeve A Message
Spice House
Sysco East Wisconsin
Tapped Maple Syrup
Terra Spice
The Chai Company
The Chef's Warehouse
Tony Machi Fruits & Vegetables
Uline
UNFI
V. Marchese
Valley Bakers
Volcafe
 
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