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Speciality Coffee & The Micro-Lot Connection

If you’re into specialty coffee, you may have heard the term “micro-lot” before, but what does it actually mean? And why is it more expensive than other coffee? Is there really that big of a difference? We know micro means small, so are we just talking about small lots? In part, yes. But defining micro-lot coffee is more complicated than you might think. That’s because the term has multiple meanings. If you’re curious to know more, we’ve made this blog post espresso-ly for you. Read on as we fill your cup with some micro-lot knowledge.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Micro-lot Coffee

Thanks to the third wave of coffee and the increased popularity of specialty-grade brews, the term “micro-lot” has gotten a lot of traction in the industry. There are a number of characteristics used to define it, and the meaning can vary depending on who you ask. The word micro-lot gets used by coffee marketers to signify an exceptional selection of beans. This isn’t always the case, but it is typically the end goal. Microlot coffee is about pinpointing and preserving the distinctive flavors in a specific region.

But let’s take a step back. To better understand micro-lot coffee, It’s helpful to understand the supply chain of specialty coffee. And it all starts with the farmers. Generally speaking, micro-lot coffee is a small batch of selected beans from a specific region. So it’s partially defined by things like climate and soil. If this sounds like single-origin coffee to you, you’re on the right track. But a micro-lot is a special kind of single-origin coffee. Not only are these beans coming from a single location, but they’re also typically from a specific plot of land on a single farm, or even from a single day’s harvest.

But, as we mentioned before, there’s more than one cut-and-dry definition for micro-lot coffee. It’s important to note that it means more than just beans from a small plot of land. The size of the crop isn’t the only thing that matters. These cherries have been selected for their unique or high-quality flavors, earning them a cupping score of 85+ among coffee graders and roasters.

Cultivating these micro-lots means more work for the producers. Once they’ve identified a lot for its special qualities, they are kept separate from the rest of the coffee grown on the farm. It takes extra time, care, and money to process these beans separately. Hence the higher price. In other words, micro-lot batches represent the best the grower has to offer.

Why Buy Micro-lot Coffee?

So, if it’s more expensive, is it really worth buying micro-lot coffee? The answer is yes, and here’s why. Not only will it taste great, which is good for you, but it’s also good for the farmers. An important characteristic of micro-lot coffee is sustainability. Not only are these beans sustainably produced and harvested, but they also help create long-term relationships between the farmers and buyers, who are willing to pay a higher price knowing they’re investing in a higher-quality product. Traceability is another defining element. When you buy these micro brews, you’re buying beans that can be traced back to a specific climate, soil, elevation, and coffee processing method.

In the end, farmers are rewarded with higher pay, and you, the customer, are rewarded with unique, high-quality coffee. And one you can feel good about drinking because you know exactly where it came from, and you know the farmers are being adequately compensated for the fruit of their labor. This gives the growers incentive to continue taking the extra time to harvest these special select brews.

The Future of Micro-lot Coffee

As specialty-grade coffee continues to dominate the third wave, micro-lots are likely to remain popular among coffee aficionados and adventurous coffee drinkers alike. In fact, we are now seeing a rise in what’s being called “nano lot” coffees. One thing is clear from this, the desire to develop these smaller, specially curated brews doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon – making it more important than ever to establish a clear understanding and consistent definition of micro-lot coffee.

Now if you see a coffee labeled “micro-lot,” you know you’ve discovered something special. So go ahead and splurge. You can enjoy that brew happily knowing you’ve invested in an exceptional, one-of-a-kind cup of Joe. And that’s a brew-ti-ful thing.

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