Any roasters on par with Howell and Wendelboe? - Page 2

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
Milligan
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#11: Post by Milligan »

It was sad to see Wendelboe's shipping go up. $18 to ship their three bag sub. The coffee price is very reasonable.

I've enjoyed Prodigal but they are moving up the price scale fast. A lot of coffees they have now are $20-35 for 250g plus shipping.

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luca
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#12: Post by luca »

There's a broader issue and a a narrower question here. Let me address the broader issue.

The broader issue is that good coffee has probably always been underpriced, it hasn't been priced sustainably, and we are losing it because of it. There are lots of reasons for this, but a few issues are:
1. Coffee relies on a ballistically ridiculous amount of unskilled labour that costs very little. The supply of people willing to do this is drying up.
2. Coffee prices have been historically low, sometimes below the cost of production, and coffee producers have hardly made a lot of money. Coffee producers are old, and their kids don't want to take over. Because being a coffee producer is not a good career or money decision.
3. The cost of property all around the world is skyrocketing. Coffee growing land is usually beautiful, and makes a great holiday house or hotel location.
4. Climate change.
5. Petrol costs have made fertiliser costs skyrocket.
6. War and civil unrest.

If you look at the green coffee market, just a few years ago, roasters who wanted high quality coffee around me would lock up exclusive rights to a particular lot. Now they can't do that and it's a seller's market for the better coffees.

You may want to have a look at the Specialty Coffee Transaction Guide:

https://www.transactionguide.coffee

Generally, specialty coffee prices reported by the SCTG data donors sort of mirrored the C-market price, going up until 2022. In 2023, the C retreated from the 2022 high. But not for 88+ coffees, which went up, or for 86s, which held their ground. It was really only the 84s and below that retreated with C market prices. So, in other words, we really do have a quality premium in the market.

I got an email from an Australian importer reporting in on their Ethiopian coffees. I've basically not been buying retail Ethiopian coffees in Australia since about 2019, before which they were probably like a third of what I would buy per annum. In their report about their buying trip, they reflected on their performance last year. And their assessment was ... that they had a lot of very high quality Ethiopian coffees available, but prices were relatively high ... they struggled to move them and they didn't have enough cheaper Ethiopian coffees to meet the demand from their roaster customers.

And, I mean, the fall from grace of Ethiopian coffees around me has been unbelievable. I used to buy, for standard-ish "specialty" retail single origin prices, every year, probably half a dozen Ethiopian coffees that were really comparable to, if not better than, a lot of good panama geisha. Now if I mention anything like that to most new coffee professionals, they just sort of condescendingly tell me that the two are totally different, despite the fact that their tasting notes often read pretty similar. These coffees were always underpriced, and now they are basically gone, at least in terms of what I have access to. I mean there are still some pretty good washed coffees around, but boy you have to look for them and fight for them. I found one that was kind of 86 points, IMHO, which was one of the best I've had for ages, and the roaster that bought it told me that he had to cup like 36 samples to find it.

So, like, it's a seller's market for 86+ coffees, and, to be blunt, none of us have any right to coffees of the quality that we used to get at lower prices at low prices forever. Having to pay more just for the quality that we used to get is simply reality. (Particularly with global shipping chaos like the panama canal drying up and the unrest around Yemen.) If you're going to shop for coffee at the same price that you used to get it, you're probably going to lump lower quality, but you can bet that roasters certainly aren't going to expressly tell you that!

Essentially, it feels to me like the supply of 86+ coffees has decreased a bit, their price has gone up a bit and at least some roasters are substituting in coffees of lower quality that will enable them to maintain the price point. For reference, my take on it is that 86+ are coffees that basically have maybe one fairly distinctive attribute and are strong across the board; this is what I'd hope would be the quality cutoff for single origin coffees. 84 and below is technically specialty grade, but the flavour can be a bit generic, or it might have a pretty distinctive attribute that would ordinarily score high, but it might be knocked down a few pegs by something unpleasant in the cup.

IMHO, A lot of coffee roasters seem to have gotten by with poor roasting skills, selling 86+ coffees that tasted like 84s and lower because they slashed off a few points with poor roasting skills. If you roast an 84 perfectly, it's pretty good, but if you take it and slash off the same 2-3 points, you're in low 80s barely technically specialty grade territory. (Well, technically it's not correct to speak of roast doing this, since you're supposed to use the scale to grade green.)
LMWDP #034 | 2011: Q Exam, WBrC #3, Aus Cup Tasting #1 | Insta: @lucacoffeenotes
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luca
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#13: Post by luca »

Milligan wrote:I've enjoyed Prodigal but they are moving up the price scale fast. A lot of coffees they have now are $20-35 for 250g plus shipping.
Scott Rao, in the 19 February Prodigal mailing list email wrote:You may be interested to know that we use our optical sorter intensely for 1.5 days per roast day in order to "clean" the coffee of quakers and any off-flavor beans that 99% of roasters leave in the batch and sell. We remove an average of more than 20% of our coffee by weight, despite buying extremely high quality green.
If you want to try something to work out if you might see value in this, grab double your standard dose of whatever coffee you are currently drinking, pick out the lightest bean and put it aside. Repeat until you have sorted out the lightest 50% from the darkest 50%. Then brew both and taste side by side.

Anecdotally, I'd say that I've noticed a lot more quakers in the last year or two, even in more expensive coffees.

I should disclose that when I buy Prodigal, they allow me to pool together with friends to attain a wholesale discount, though I think this is an offer that's open to anyone that hits the minimum order quantity.
LMWDP #034 | 2011: Q Exam, WBrC #3, Aus Cup Tasting #1 | Insta: @lucacoffeenotes

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luca
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#14: Post by luca »

Jeff wrote:Of roasters that I've bought from recently, The Picky Chemist, "omni" roast, may be worth considering. I think his light/filter roast will be significantly lighter than Tim Wendelboe and probably not to your liking. TPC's omni is still very light, probably lighter than Tim Wendelboe's "filter".
Yep, I was going to say exactly this! Another vote for TPC Omni.

I've signed up to the mailing list for Aviary. I've had some great roasts from Christopher Feran, and he is perhaps one of the roaster/green buyer humans in the world of coffee whose skills I most respect.
LMWDP #034 | 2011: Q Exam, WBrC #3, Aus Cup Tasting #1 | Insta: @lucacoffeenotes

kidloco
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#15: Post by kidloco »

Ging3rBen wrote:Gardelli, DAK, la Cabra all capable of being outstanding
Went through 4-5 bags of La Cabra still waiting to be impressed...

RyanJE (original poster)
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#16: Post by RyanJE (original poster) replying to kidloco »

Darn, was eyeing this option...
I drink two shots before I drink two shots, then I drink two more....

RyanJE (original poster)
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#17: Post by RyanJE (original poster) »

luca wrote:There's a broader issue and a a narrower question here. Let me address the broader issue.

The broader issue is that good coffee has probably always been underpriced, it hasn't been priced sustainably, and we are losing it because of it. There are lots of reasons for this, but a few issues are:
1. Coffee relies on a ballistically ridiculous amount of unskilled labour that costs very little. The supply of people willing to do this is drying up.
2. Coffee prices have been historically low, sometimes below the cost of production, and coffee producers have hardly made a lot of money. Coffee producers are old, and their kids don't want to take over. Because being a coffee producer is not a good career or money decision.
3. The cost of property all around the world is skyrocketing. Coffee growing land is usually beautiful, and makes a great holiday house or hotel location.
4. Climate change.
5. Petrol costs have made fertiliser costs skyrocket.
6. War and civil unrest.

If you look at the green coffee market, just a few years ago, roasters who wanted high quality coffee around me would lock up exclusive rights to a particular lot. Now they can't do that and it's a seller's market for the better coffees.

You may want to have a look at the Specialty Coffee Transaction Guide:

https://www.transactionguide.coffee

Generally, specialty coffee prices reported by the SCTG data donors sort of mirrored the C-market price, going up until 2022. In 2023, the C retreated from the 2022 high. But not for 88+ coffees, which went up, or for 86s, which held their ground. It was really only the 84s and below that retreated with C market prices. So, in other words, we really do have a quality premium in the market.

I got an email from an Australian importer reporting in on their Ethiopian coffees. I've basically not been buying retail Ethiopian coffees in Australia since about 2019, before which they were probably like a third of what I would buy per annum. In their report about their buying trip, they reflected on their performance last year. And their assessment was ... that they had a lot of very high quality Ethiopian coffees available, but prices were relatively high ... they struggled to move them and they didn't have enough cheaper Ethiopian coffees to meet the demand from their roaster customers.

And, I mean, the fall from grace of Ethiopian coffees around me has been unbelievable. I used to buy, for standard-ish "specialty" retail single origin prices, every year, probably half a dozen Ethiopian coffees that were really comparable to, if not better than, a lot of good panama geisha. Now if I mention anything like that to most new coffee professionals, they just sort of condescendingly tell me that the two are totally different, despite the fact that their tasting notes often read pretty similar. These coffees were always underpriced, and now they are basically gone, at least in terms of what I have access to. I mean there are still some pretty good washed coffees around, but boy you have to look for them and fight for them. I found one that was kind of 86 points, IMHO, which was one of the best I've had for ages, and the roaster that bought it told me that he had to cup like 36 samples to find it.

So, like, it's a seller's market for 86+ coffees, and, to be blunt, none of us have any right to coffees of the quality that we used to get at lower prices at low prices forever. Having to pay more just for the quality that we used to get is simply reality. (Particularly with global shipping chaos like the panama canal drying up and the unrest around Yemen.) If you're going to shop for coffee at the same price that you used to get it, you're probably going to lump lower quality, but you can bet that roasters certainly aren't going to expressly tell you that!

Essentially, it feels to me like the supply of 86+ coffees has decreased a bit, their price has gone up a bit and at least some roasters are substituting in coffees of lower quality that will enable them to maintain the price point. For reference, my take on it is that 86+ are coffees that basically have maybe one fairly distinctive attribute and are strong across the board; this is what I'd hope would be the quality cutoff for single origin coffees. 84 and below is technically specialty grade, but the flavor can be a bit generic, or it might have a pretty distinctive attribute that would ordinarily score high, but it might be knocked down a few pegs by something unpleasant in the cup.

IMHO, A lot of coffee roasters seem to have gotten by with poor roasting skills, selling 86+ coffees that tasted like 84s and lower because they slashed off a few points with poor roasting skills. If you roast an 84 perfectly, it's pretty good, but if you take it and slash off the same 2-3 points, you're in low 80s barely technically specialty grade territory. (Well, technically it's not correct to speak of roast doing this, since you're supposed to use the scale to grade green.)
While I totally understand with what you are saying, I think there is more to play here. TOO many roasters are charging more money and people are spending it because of their marketing! Look at Onyx for example, their prices have gone crazy and sizes shrinking. All the mean while their packaging and marketing has gotten super complex and stuffy. Green prices have no where near approached that. Also, since our governments were passing out money, companies were happy to snap that up.

If you use Wendelboe as an example, price / quality is in check. Its outstanding what he has accomplished and he certainly is not ripping off his farmers and partners. And therefore not ripping off customers either. Unfortunately, the shipping cost doubled over night from 15 to 30 for 5x250g bags. Thats not his fault of course, but makes the coffee delivered much more expensive...
I drink two shots before I drink two shots, then I drink two more....

upwardmobility
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#18: Post by upwardmobility »

Howell has dropped way off IMHO as it has scaled.

Quester
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#19: Post by Quester »

luca wrote:The broader issue is that good coffee has probably always been underpriced, it hasn't been priced sustainably, and we are losing it because of it. There are lots of reasons for this, but a few issues are:
Nicely pointed out.

coffeeyoutoo
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#20: Post by coffeeyoutoo »

Unfortunately your question makes no sense.
I live in South Korea and am a cafe owner.
South Korea has four distinct seasons, and there is a significant difference in precipitation between the rainy season and the dry season. The GH in the rainy season (summer) is 25ppm and in the dry season (winter, spring) it is 70ppm. And depending on the region, there are places where GH is less than 10ppm.
When selecting green coffee beans or roasting them, seasonal changes in water mineral content must be taken into consideration.
Even when selling roasted coffee, guidelines regarding water must be provided to consumers.
However, since the cafe's espresso machine is directly connected to the water supply, the roasting of the coffee is best suited to the water in the area where the roaster (cafe) is located.

To put it simply,
This means that each roaster (cafe) purchases green beans and uses a roasting profile that is specialized for the mineral content of the water in the region where they are located.
When those coffees are compatible with the water you use, you can brew delicious coffee.