With an overwhelming array of coffee brands to choose from, it can be somewhat stressful to buy an experience that truly satisfies all your senses while reassuring your conscience of its ethics and integrity. That’s where artisan coffee comes into play!
A tastefully designed package that promises single origin beans processed in small batches is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to artisan coffee. The third wave of coffee focuses on quality production to deliver a well-balanced and flavourful brew with an ethical and sustainable supply chain to match.
“Drinking a specialty coffee that has been produced in the right way, and with all the added value that the supply chain aggregates, is the basis of a great experience. This experience is a combination of education, knowledge and hospitality,” says Matt Milletto,Co-Owner of Water Avenue Coffee.
What is an artisan coffee roaster?
Frequently described as “a marriage of science and sensibility”, artisan coffee is founded on integrity at every stage of the process, from choosing the right supplier with sustainable farm practices to expert knowlxedge of drying and roasting. Importantly, the roaster’s tasting sensibility is where coffee proves itself to be an art and where you can stand out with coffees that are unique in terms of flavour and terroir expression – similarly to wine.
Artisan growers today have more control over their supply, going to great lengths to differentiate themselves through defining the type of beans that are grown, the conditions that they are grown in and the harvesting practices involved. Factors such as the micro-region and coffee plant varietal further influence the attributes of the terroir and give roasters the opportunity to partner with growers that share the similar values.
Tips for selecting artisan coffee
While coffee production from the farm to the cup has come a long way, Matthew Lewin, Barista Champion and Coffee Consultant reveals that Google will only take you so far in your quest for a quality artisan blend.
“If you wanted to go and buy amazing oysters, cheese or wine, you would probably go and source some sort of artisanal store and talk to someone who specialises in that field. And then you’d be able to really learn something from an amazing retailer or wholesaler,” he affirms.
The in-person experience allows the customer to fully appreciate the care and commitment that’s ultimately driving the flavour profile. He recommends asking the right questions, such as how ethical and fresh is the product? Is it produced in small batches? Have the growers invested in micro mills? And, importantly, does the end result taste fresh, delicious and flavourful?
The world’s finest artisan coffee roasters
This curated list of artisan roasters from around the globe will no doubt inspire you to take your brew game to a whole new level or simply try a new blend of flavours to indulge in.
The true markers of artisan coffee have been carefully considered to include expertly sourced coffee when it comes to growing locations, batch sizes and the selection of beans; ethical production across the entire supply chain; and lastly, a good selection of unique blends.
Investing in sustainable partnerships with coffee producers who share a vision for maintaining quality is at the heart of the Chicago-based roaster’s ability to deliver extraordinary coffee. Pioneers in direct trade for almost 20 years, Intelligentsia is well aware that sourcing the world’s best coffee relies on strengthening and ensuring transparency with the supply chain as well as scheduling regular visits to coffee growers, processors and exporters within the direct trade network.
Long-lasting relationships founded on trust also make it possible for growers to take risks by experimenting with new processes and practices. Commitment to consistently providing fresh and flavourful coffee stems from roasting and harvesting the beans at the right time.
Spirit Animal Coffee
A perfect blend of luxury and sustainability, respect and integrity reflect the spirit of the brand with highly skilled independent farmers in Honduras earning above average wages and profits reinvested back into production to support their efforts in organic farming.
With a strong focus on quality, a mere one per cent of beans grown in the shade at high altitudes are selected and hand-picked according to degree of sweetness, which are then processed in micro batches. Single origin coffee ensures that the flavour isn’t compromised as opposed to sourcing beans across various locations like many commercial coffee companies do to meet consumer demand.
Adams and Russell Coffee Roasters
Renowned for carefully sourcing the highest quality green beans from around the globe, Adams and Russell flame roast in small batches – an adaptive process perfected over more than 40 years in their roasting house. As members of the Speciality Coffee Association as well as affiliations with the Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade and women’s cooperative AMPROCAL, the UK-based company holds itself to high standards with fully traceable single plantation coffees available. It also specialises in expertly curated espresso blends and single origin coffees that vary from one location to another.
Hygge Coffee Co
This family-owned artisan coffee roaster’s products are stocked by some of the largest retailers in the US. With its focus on building a community and supporting coffee growers, the team is committed to improving the coffee industry. One way it manages to entice more people into taking part in the hygge experience is by serving exceptional brews at corporate events, parties and weddings.
Olympia Coffee Roasting Co
With an exceptional number of awards under its belt, Olympia Coffee was originally founded as a wholesale coffee roaster in 2005 before the company’s first employee, Sam Schroeder, and Oliver Stormshak made the bold decision to transform their enduring passion for coffee by taking over the business during a recession.
The co-owners were able to take advantage of partnerships such as an established direct trade project in Costa Rica to elevate the coffee experience to new heights with greater control over flavours and variety. Their philosophy is similarly grounded in ensuring quality of life for their farmers, staff and customers with a commitment to transparency.
Italian Artisan Coffee
Coupled with a slow-roast process, hand-picked coffee cherries that have slowly ripened over time in the best conditions is the secret behind the company’s depth of flavour and sweetness in every cup. Best known for its high-quality green coffee beans sourced from across Rainforest Alliance and UTZ certified farms in Brazil, India, El Salvador, Colombia, Ethiopia and Papua New Guinea, Italian Artisan Coffee maintains its high standard by having every batch examined according to the expert eyes of quality graders and Specialty Coffee Association protocols.
Counter Culture Coffee
Not just committed to quality sustainable coffee, but also educating customers about coffee brewing and its origins, Counter Culture Coffee endeavoured to go beyond the standard fair trade model by pioneering a direct trade model to foster relationships within its supply chain. Complete purchasing transparency is unique in the coffee industry and focuses on sharing information regarding where coffee is sourced and tracking metrics that keep workers at every level accountable.
Bocca Coffee Roasters
The first specialty coffee business in the Netherlands to take ownership of the entire process from bean to cup, Bocca Coffee was founded in 2001 by Menno Simons. Thereafter Simons launched Trabocca, a green coffee trader from which Bocca purchases its coffee and that has a global reputation for excellence in traceable speciality Ethiopian coffees. Known for its diverse portfolio of both seasonal and seven year-round coffees, the brand has both fair trade and organic certifications that meet the expectations of high-profile hospitality clients in the Netherlands.