raw material quality

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I am interested in starting a SMALL business by buying green coffee beans, roasting, grinding and packing

I have a question about raw material quality control. What to check in green beans to assure the income quality ? Do i need lab equipment ?

-- jose fernandez (kaffeetero@yahoo.com.mx), February 18, 2004


Hello Jose. You have several ways around this depending on the sort of business it will be and volumes you will use. If you are going to buy beans from a reputable local based broker, you should assume that the quality is fine. Most brokers buy in bulk from growers or agents in the producing country. The beans purchased are always done so based on samples that have been tested (roasted-tasted) by the broker before they order. The broker signs a contract with the supplier in the country of origin saying they want, for example, 18mt of grade 1 washed Arabica- origin Kayu Mas Estate- Central Java. The contract is based on the origin supplier being able to deliver exactly what is stipulated- ie: if grade 3 arrives rather than grade 1.... then the broker who ordered the beans can take action through mediation with the supplier.

In saying that if you are going to be operating a small business, you may wish to try and source the beans yourself. If you are looking at specialty grade coffee you should join the SCAA, get some quality charts. Always request quanities of sample beans from a supplier first- I always try and get around 1 kg if I can so I can do several test roasts before deciding on which beans I like. Chosing and importing your own beans can be rewarding and give you an edge over competitors....most of whom buy from brokers. Conversely if you decide to import your own you need to be pretty competent in picking whether a coffee is right for you, your market and your image. You also need to be prepared to deal with origin agents, shipping lines, customs officials, quality issues etc!

I do not know what other roasters use to determine quality- i have no lab equiptment as such... I prefer to test based on my knowledge of coffees........maybe someone else can offer comment on this. Alun

-- Alun Evans (alun@merdekacoffee.com), February 19, 2004.

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