“I’m sorry, that coffee is out of season and we won’t have any more back until this winter.” That is probably one of the saddest things we have ever had to tell a customer. Even though they nod in acknowledgement and order another origin they enjoy, you can see the disappointment and confusion in their eyes. What exactly does it mean for coffee beans to be in or out of season? Isn’t coffee available year-round? One would think so, but that is not necessarily the case. Each year a coffee roaster must make predictive decisions when ordering green coffee beans based on the previous year’s sales as well as considers what coffees are currently trending. Sometimes there is an outlier, and the coffee roaster will get in an origin that they have never had before and it does better than expected, thus resulting in selling out quickly. That is when the problem arises. The coffee roaster has inadvertently created a solid customer base for an origin, such as a particular organic coffee, but his previous predictions regarding the appreciation and success of the origin far exceeded his expectations, and he is unable to reorder the coffee until the following harvest season.
What exactly are the harvest seasons and the resulting shipping period for each origin? We’ve created this handy calendar to highlight the origins that we offer at Copper Canyon Coffee Roasters. It is broken up into continental and oceanic coffee producing regions: Americas, Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific/Indonesia. Each category then lists specific countries and/or islands where each of our coffee beans are grown, harvested, and shipped from. The calendar is color-coded to show the best coffee harvest times as well as when they can be expected to be shipped in a timely manner. While many of the regions display similar harvest and shipping periods, they can differ based on climate and growing conditions.
Take coffee beans from Colombia, for example, which are harvested in two different periods during the year. The main harvest occurs from September to January, with October through December being the peak harvest time. Then a second harvest period, also known as a “fly crop,” happens from March to June, with April and May being the peak harvest during that time frame. Because of the multiple harvest times in Colombia, coffee beans ship year-round, with a peak shipping period happening half of the year, meaning there is always a steady and reliable supply of Colombian coffee beans in the United States. On the other hand, El Salvador only harvests coffee beans once a year from November through March, shipping them from December through June, which means that for much of the summer and fall it can be difficult to get your hands on some of these beans, unless a coffee roaster bought a generous amount earlier in the year.
So the next time you visit your favorite coffee shop and see the single origin offerings on the menu, you can be a little more aware of why some coffee beans are available at certain times of the year.
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