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5 Post-harvest Challenges of Specialty Coffee Roasters

Spilled coffee beans on a table

The coffee business faces certain challenges requiring a technology-driven approach to solve them. While the industry is still dominated by age-old practices of smallholder farmers in remote parts of the world, new solutions are now being integrated through the efforts of progressively minded traders and roasters, who will do anything to sustainably and efficiently satisfy the demands of their customers.

Here are five challenges faced by specialty coffee roasters:

Dealing with Climate Change

Changing climates affect harvest seasons for specialty and single-origin varieties. As a result, roasters and coffee shop owners are forced to adjust their scheduled seasonal offerings accordingly. Patrons of these varieties, too, will have to adjust. These changes also make the prices of specific varieties more volatile and unpredictable.

Simultaneously, climate change also changes the quality of coffee.. Intermittent rains and high precipitation during harvest and drying can be detrimental to coffee and can lead to fungal contamination of the beans during storage.

In terms of drying, intermittent rains can cause re-wetting, leading to the dissolution of soluble compounds in the beans. These compounds affect the flavor and aromatic qualities that their drinkers go for. Often, green coffee with a brownish tint is the victim of re-wetting and lacks certain characters that roasters paid for and loved by their patrons.

Shipping

Coffee takes quite a journey from farms to coffee shops. Transoceanic shipment is arduous, temperature fluctuations combined with layovers that take weeks—sometimes months—on end causes adverse effects on the quality of coffee beans.

The application of foaming insulators and absorbing gels around the interior of shipping containers has become a norm to reduce condensation and its effects on coffee. However, this is quite expensive and does not provide protection against insects and fungal contamination.

Liners are fast becoming the standard when it comes to protecting coffee and reducing the effects of condensation. When installed properly, liners can be an effective ally in reducing the effects of condensation and in preventing the proliferation of insects.

Tracking the Journey

In the coffee industry, traceability is a huge concern and an important factor in ensuring sustainable operations. As the journey of coffee becomes more and more complicated, all the players in the coffee chain want to demonstrate their commitment to food quality and safety and assure the reliability of their suppliers.

Thus, there is a demand to trace and document where specialty coffee is sourced and track its journey. Companies specializing in this technology are available to help map a product’s history. However, such services can be pricey. Investing in tracking technology creates trust and confidence towards consumers.

Using Jute Bags

The use of jute bags has long been an industry staple, despite its many flaws. Being organic and porous in its nature and composition, jute bags are easily penetrated by insects, affected by ambient moisture and temperature, and release chemical compounds that are absorbed by coffee, resulting in a flavor profile that many roasters and shop owners easily associate with jute bags.

If done correctly, jute bags lined with hermetically-sealed liners can provide excellent protection and safe preservation of coffee against insects and fungal contaminants. Hermetic bags are also able to prevent the beans from absorbing the undesirable oil from the jute material.

Prolonging Freshness

Perhaps one of the biggest problems faced by specialty coffee roasters is how to safely preserve the quality, quantity, and freshness of their specialty coffee. After its long journey, specialty coffee usually loses many of the properties that made it special in the first place.

In addition, there is a demand to prolong the freshness past the established harvest-arrival season. Coffee roasters want to factor out seasonality and sell certain specialty coffee varieties as a year-long offering, which stabilizes its price and ensures that stocks are consumed by the time a new shipment arrives.

Sustainable hermetic liner bags are changing the way coffee is stored and packaged. This technology can safely preserve freshness for a longer period (more than a year) without applying chemicals.

Specialty coffee roasters and shop owners want to ensure that their investments are safe and that customers are satisfied. By protecting coffee from any potential problems within the value chain, specialty coffee drinkers and coffee providers from coffee consuming countries can be confident that they are getting what they paid for; ensuring the long-term success of their business.

GrainPro’s Ultra Hermetic™ technology is designed to keep your coffee beans safe and fresh. Learn more about our products here.

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Topics: Post-harvest