Every year, producers around the world create over 10 billion kilos of coffee.
Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of variety in the billions of cups those kilos make. They can have the most generic, familiar flavours of coffee – or they can approach something more refreshing like lemon, or something as sweet as candy.
Coffee's ability to taste so different from one cup to the next has led coffee producers, over the centuries, to learn how to bring out different characteristics of the bean. The greatest producers have become masters at this. In their mastery, their coffees are celebrated in competitions and with awards: the rarest of coffees, receiving coffee's greatest acclaim.
Our Rare & Acclaimed series was created to offer people a glimpse at the pinnacle of coffee, providing the zenith of quality. In this series, we showcase rare processings, cultivars and coffee producers who have won awards like Cup of Excellence or Best of Panama, or have been used to win Barista or Brewers Cup Championships.
For a coffee to achieve such acclaim, its flavour usually needs to be incredibly rare to experience. Most coffee tastes like the generic flavour of coffee – that which you might expect to find in a coffee cake, a coffee ice cream or a coffee dessert.
This flavour, though great, is very common. What makes a Rare & Acclaimed coffee so special is that it achieves the difficult task of taking a high-end coffee and producing natural flavours like berries, peaches, or tropical mango – or complex florality like jasmine, apple blossom or violet.
For a producer to create rare notes, it means using cultivars that often yield very little coffee and are susceptible to diseases. It also means the producers have to be experts in cultivation, to help the coffee’s flavour develop while it grows.
Finally, the way in which producers process their coffee is one of the biggest impacts on flavour. This means that great producers need to understand how to control the yeasts in the coffee’s fermentation, and their effects, in an incredibly precise way.
All of this means that these coffees are incredibly rare, as it doesn’t take much in the production process to taint the flavour and cause the coffee to lose its expressiveness. That’s why, in the rarest of cases, these coffees can go at auction for as much as $1300.5 USD per lb.
To pick the coffees for our Rare & Acclaimed range, we link up directly with producers like Mauricio Shattah, whose farm we have spent time on, cupping and learning about his coffee. Or we might connect with producers through our trusted brokers, who we also have long relationships with.
The process of picking a coffee is a long one, as very few coffees manage to pass the bar. This also means that the amount we buy is very small, as it reflects the rarity of the coffees themselves.
After countless tastings, we identify those exceptional lots that have the power to change what we think a coffee can be. When we do – in those moments where we feel like we’ve tasted something truly unique – we know that we’ve found our next Rare & Acclaimed coffee.