What is Microlot Coffee?

What is Microlot coffee?

“Microlot” is the new buzzword that’s getting thrown around in the coffee industry left right and centre. So what exactly is and is not a microlot coffee?

The best way to explain what microlot coffee is, is this apple orchard analogy: Imagine you have an orchard and most of the trees produce great apples, but you’ve noticed that in one spot of the orchard the apples are phenomenal. Like out of this world better. These apples taste better, are crispier and juicer. So you decide to fence these babies off, water them specially, listen to their every whim and need, and give them all the special attention they deserve. Then when it comes time to harvest, you keep them aside and process them separately, so they are delightfully shiny and good looking. Then you get to sell these special apples to special buyers who will pay top dollar for the top apples.

It’s the same concept with microlot coffees. This small lot of trees usually yield only a small amount of coffee, around 40 bags yearly. The growers and producers identify that is has a special quality (85+ cupping score) so they give more time and attention to developing it’s uniqueness. Microlots are harvested from a particular plot of land, band of altitude and processed in a separate way from the rest of the coffee from the farm, to amplify their special qualities.

A microlot is NOT just a small lot of coffee, or a larger lot divided up into smaller bags to sell. The term also means that there has been investigative and experimental input by the buyer, grower or both, to produce a coffee with special characteristics. If this is not evident, then the term microlot becomes simply a marketing term. Because the world of specialty coffee is becoming increasingly mainstream, meaning more amazing coffees accessible by more coffee lovers, we need to ensure that education surrounding terms and grading is accurate.

Ryadan Jeavons

by Ryadan Jeavons

Ryd is a passionate coffee educator who started his career in 2000 as a barista. Having seen the coffee industry develop over the years and how much there is to learn about coffee still, his personal mission has become a role as the conduit between the industry and the consumer. He is passionate about educating the public on all the wonderful things we are learning about this golden liquid drink.

5 comments on "What is Microlot coffee?"

  1. joe says:

    how are microlots generally shipped from origin? usually it is only feasible to ship a full container on a freight ship, which i understand is many tons of coffee.

    1. Ryadan Jeavons says:

      Yep, you’re right Joe! Usually they come across in shipping containers but for a microlot owner there rarely is enough for an entire container load, so they’ll often work in with a production mill who will export them along with other microlots. So when we purchase a lot of the time it has to be through big importer companies but our focus is trying to establish more and more direct trade. This means the coffee import costs increase but has a lot of other benefits that go with it.

  2. Yubraj Maski says:

    Microlot Coffee ? How can I relate with Highland Coffee grown in High altitude Nepal? Usually our coffee is popular as organic, Himalayan Coffee in Europe, Asean etc.

    1. Ryadan Jeavons says:

      HI Yubraj,

      Well, I guess it depends on your operation. Is there a large plantation where you are? Or are you just on your own with maybe a little help from others?

  3. Kwesi Kutesa says:

    I’m a speciality coffee buyer and seller. Apart from sourcing Arabica micro-lots from outstanding farmers, I also grow my own Robusta in my garden. It made sense to source Arabica from highlands, as the characteristics of such varieties are outstanding. I usually fly my small consignments straight to specialty coffee roasters. I also fight to give coffee farmers substantive prices for their coffee and save money through using a stream lined logistical supply chain. My background in logistics allows me to develop unique solutions to managing quality control across the value chain. My interest is in speciality coffee roasters that are willing to pay a bit more for a lot more quality. Being a small time roaster myself, I know the profitability in paying the farmer well. The end product is worth much more at the end, and the relationship between the farmer and roaster is key. I’m not looking to deal with the whole world, just a few roasters in a few countries, or markets that can afford speciality coffee. I’m open to doing business and further discussion about trading micro-lots and small batches of single origin coffee; as well as offering structural support to farmers looking to become organic certified. Please feel free to get in touch if anyone is interested in having that kind of conversation.

    Kwesi Kutesa
    Kyemamba Farm Produce (Uganda) Ltd.
    kyemamba@gmail.com
    +(256)0782-303068 (WhatsApp and Mobile)

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