In the last couple of weeks I’ve been reminded about how people and their coffee really do interact. Over the course of time, some of the coffees I have available change, or come from a different growing region or farm. I’m always amazed at how some subtle changes can affect people’s reactions to their coffees.
For example, I’ve always carried a coffee from Ethiopia. Ethiopian beans are my favorites and so will always be available. The longest running Ethiopian we had carried was a Fair Trade Organic Yirgacheffe (roll your R’s when you say that). It was very popular and definitely one of my favorites. One of the challenges in carrying that coffee was that the current price was very, very high. So, decision time. Keep the same coffee but raise the price, or source something new.
Carlos, who I buy from out of Calgary, recommended a new Ethiopian bean. Shegitu, Natural. It’s a coffee from the Harrar region, instead of Yirgacheffe. “It will be quite different” he let me know. Since it was a new one from Ethiopia, I thought let’s give it a try.
Right from the first batch, I noticed that it was a very aromatic coffee, even right out of the roaster. Usually that much aroma takes some time to develop while the coffee rests before delivery. This one certainly was an exception to that line of thinking. My first tasting, or cupping as coffee tasters call it, was amazing. This was a coffee that was loaded with dark berry tones. Blueberry specifically for me. And rich blueberry at that. But as with anything we taste, different flavors are there for different palates.
So, one of my most regular Yirgacheffe customers orders and I let him know about the change. No problem. We’ll give it a try. Ha!! Next morning there was a message in my twitter feed (that’s how some customers order from me): “Um, yea, the new coffee. Definitely not our favorite. Do you have the Yirgacheffe?” Sadly I had to tell them I didn’t and have worked to find something else until it returns. Which it will.
I was prepared for people to say, yes, that’s different. But was not prepared for the “we don’t really like it at all.” No worries. The Yirgacheffe will return. And they’ll be happy. And I’m reminded that my customers really do know their coffee.