The UK is famous for the flavour of our strawberries, but they don’t taste the same all year round. In May and June, we are absolutely spoiled for choice with beautiful, sweet, firm, and delicious strawberries. As the summer months run by, the flavour of these strawberries changes, often becoming less flavourful and less sweet, slightly diluted and just generally not as good as they were in the beginning of summer. It is the way of British summertime.
And coffee is just the same. Coffee is a seed of a fruit and just like any other agricultural product, coffees produced in different areas of the globe have their own seasons. They taste their best depending on the time of the year they are harvested and consumed. Just like those strawberries start to lose their flavour, so do coffees that are far from the harvest.
As most of the coffee we consume comes from the equatorial regions, the places where coffee is grown often have a rainy season, followed by a dry season. It takes a coffee tree around 7-11 months to produce fruit for the harvest and as a result most coffee-growing countries only have one harvest a year.
Every coffee tastes its best as near to their season as possible. There are many other factors such as processing, storage and transportation, that can affect the freshness of the green beans, but generally the best way to avoid serving ‘past crop’ or coffees with ‘faded’ flavours is to roast coffees that are freshly landed from the harvest and by sourcing just the right amount coffee to meet demand.
Unroasted or so called ‘green’ coffee that has started fading or is showing some ‘age’ will have for example woody, papery, or vegetal notes when roasted. The sweetness and acidity of the coffee will start to degrade gradually, as well as the body of the coffee will be dry and slim. These characteristics will show in the coffee regardless of when or how the coffee was roasted.
The aspect of seasonality will mean that consumers may struggle to find certain coffees all year round and just like in our coffee menu, the coffees will change as the months go by. There are some coffees from certain origins that have the ability to hold their flavours for much longer than others, for example in Colombia they have two harvests at different times of the year, which makes this origin available all year round. But understanding coffee’s seasonality will help us to find the ‘flavour profile’ each of us prefer.
Our coffee menu at The Gentlemen Baristas is built upon the seasonality of the origins. We aim to bring coffees available as they come into season, therefore ensuring we can bring out the best out of these beans and serve them while they are at the peak of their seasonality. Instead of dedicating each hat into a certain origin, we have made each hat to have a certain flavour profile. So despite the origin of the coffee change, the flavour will have similar elements as the previous one. As an example, Propeller will always stay fruity and Gatsby will always stay as our dark roasted blend.