If you have never experienced a brew from a specialty coffee roastery, you’d be forgiven for assuming that all coffee is more or less the same. That is because most of the world’s coffee is the same.
The coffee stocked on supermarket shelves, served by fast food chains, and roasted at multinational cafes is produced on a massive, industrial scale. Inevitably, the unique qualities of the coffee are sacrificed. The result? Coffee that lacks freshness, flavour, and care for the folks growing and preparing it.
Fortunately, there is an alternative—one that celebrates and cultivates the unique characteristics and stories behind each cup of quality coffee. In this alternative, every coffee is delicious, unique, and freshly roasted.
Welcome to the world of small-batch coffee.
What is small-batch coffee?
Most coffee is traded and priced according to supply and demand, no different than oil or gold. It is treated as a uniform commodity, with little consideration given to quality - this is called commodity coffee.
But coffee can be so much more than a commodity. Different plant varieties, climates, processing techniques, and roast profiles create wildly different flavours and infinite opportunities for experimenting.
Commodity coffee stamps out or disregards these differences. Small-batch coffee, often called specialty coffee, strives to elevate them.
Small-batch coffee roasters (like Moon Roast) focus on quality rather than quantity. Focusing on small-batch roasting offers more control over coffee sources. Roasters can work with the best coffee and often have direct relationships with the farmers growing it.
At Moon Roast, we regularly visit our coffee growers. This allows us to forge meaningful connections and constantly improve not just the quality and taste of our coffee, but the lives of the people producing it and the land in which it grows.
Direct trade coffee
This committed style of small-batch roasting is called direct trade. In contrast to the anonymised, industrial production of commodity coffee, direct trade ensures better wages for producers, who are often grossly under-compensated for the backbreaking work required to grow, harvest, and process coffee.
By focusing on quality, small-batch roasters with direct trade sourcing can also encourage sustainable production methods. Better farming practices can preserve soil and freshwater while reducing the use of harmful chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
Rather than a commodity, small-batch coffee is a story. It is connected to a specific place and carries the craftsmanship of both the farmers and roasters. And it is a story that tastes really, really good.
The advantages of small-batch coffee
With the distinction between small-batch coffee and commodity coffee clear, let’s now turn to the specific ways in which the small-batch approach creates better coffee, from bean to cup.
Growing and sourcing
Small-batch coffee is grown with far more care and attention to detail. Farmers can cultivate unique, delicious varieties that are too unique for the commodity market, where uniformity is king. Small-batch roasters operate on a scale that creates a market for these coffees. As a result, small-batch coffee is more diverse, more interesting, and more delicious.
The advantages of the small batch scale also hold true when it comes to processing. Often overlooked, processing techniques are a crucial component in creating quality coffee. This is the step where the coffee bean (technically a seed) is separated from the fruit (known as the coffee cherry) and then dried and prepared for shipment.
Processing often happens outside, so the most appropriate technique is often dictated by weather and rainfall. Smaller batches give producers the flexibility to always optimise processing to current conditions. Producers can also experiment more frequently with new processing techniques. The result is unique and consistently high-quality coffee.
Small-batch roasting starts with high-quality coffee. Even the perfect roast can’t save bad coffee. By the time green (unroasted) coffee arrives at the roastery, its quality is built in. The roaster’s job is to bring that quality to life.
The art of small-batch roasting is all about working with different types of coffee to illuminate their unique qualities and flavours. Commodity roasters use lower-quality beans with defects and undesirable traits, so they take the opposite approach. They over-roast to mask the coffee’s character and do so in large, indiscriminate batches.
Small batch roasting incorporates far more quality control. By fine-tuning temperature and carefully monitoring other variables, like humidity, the final step of the coffee’s story is perfected. A good roast highlights nuanced flavours to create vibrant, complex, and delicious coffees.
Fresh is best
Buying small-batch coffee means buying fresh coffee. After roasting, coffee begins to degrade rather quickly as flavour compounds are lost through exposure to humidity and oxygen. You can notice an extraordinary difference between coffee roasted a week ago and coffee roasted a month ago.
Freshly roasted coffee beans are best enjoyed within two to three weeks of their roast date. But it is not unusual for bags of commodity coffee to sit in storage and on supermarket shelves for years after they are roasted. This makes the gap in quality between commodity coffee and small-batch coffee even larger.
Why choose small-batch coffee?
By choosing small-batch coffee, you are choosing quality: quality coffee, quality treatment of coffee workers, and quality care of the land. Small-batch coffee simply tastes better - and you will feel better about drinking it, too.
As a small batch roaster, these values guide our approach at Moon Roast. We hand roast exceptional coffees daily to guarantee optimal freshness, and we devote ourselves to exploring and sourcing the best coffee from around the world.
To experience the magic of fresh roasted coffee beans, visit us at our Roastery Kiosk or sign up for a coffee subscription for regular deliveries right to your door. We also partner with cafes as their wholesale coffee provider, pairing our great coffee with great service and barista training.
Whatever you’re looking for, we want to help you discover the wonderful world of small-batch coffee.