“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.