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Microlots, coffee and new crop Ecuador

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Microlots, coffee and new crop Ecuador

Carrie Masek

Go to any roaster's website and you're sure to see at least one coffee labeled “microlot.” The word microlot implies higher quality and limited quantity, but what does it actually mean for your coffee?

In the coffee business, the term microlot is used when a single estate or cooperative separates out its highest quality coffee cherries from the rest of the crop. These superior cherries are processed even more carefully, and the resulting green coffee is sold separately from the rest. Most microlots are only 10-40 bags. Growers who go to the trouble to separate out their very best coffee are more than happy to take the credit, so microlots also tend to be more traceable. To put it into numbers, most estates/coopertives produce multiple containers worth of coffee (250 bags each). Those 10+ bags represent the top 1-2% of the crop.

Anyone who's read our blog knows that here at Coffee by the Roast, we love buying coffee from small producers and coops. We only buy specialty grade coffee (coffee that that we score at 85+), and the more we know about the farm and people who grew the coffee, the better we like it. Microlots are a perfect fit for us, and many of our coffees come from microlots, including all the coffees we've bought from Ecuador. This year's Ecuador is no exception.

The new crop Ecuador has everything we look for in a great coffee. Here's why:

Flavor: This year's Ecuador is smooth and creamy on the tongue with a sweet, rich flavor balanced by lively fruit notes. One of our cupping team called the coffee, “a candy bar in a cup,” because the flavor reminds him of the fruit, nut and chocolate bars he loved as a child. Another disagreed, saying the coffee tasted more like chocolate-covered baklava, because not only is it rich and chocolaty, but is honey sweet, with a gently floral aroma and hints of cardamon spice. We all love the lively fruit note. It's softer and less acidic than citrus, and smoother than berry. When we sip the coffee, it hits the tongue with a lively spark that mellows instantly into the sweet, rich flavor. The finish is a lovely, lingering chocolate.

Of all the coffees we've cupped, the new crop Ecuador reminds us most of Kona, not surprising considering both coffees are grown in volcanic soil. We love the Ecuador black, but try it with heavy cream. Like Kona, cream really brings out the coffee's inherent sweetness.

Origin: This year's Ecuador comes from a group of very small growers from from the Pichincha, the region in Ecuador famous for its volcanoes. We love finding small farms that have worked together to improve their coffee and their livelihoods, and support that cooperation whenever possible. Yet another reason why we're excited by our new Ecuador microlot.

The only thing less than impressive about this coffee from Ecuador is its name. “Ecuador Pichincha Mixed Farm Microlot” is a dull name for an amazing coffee. We decided streamline and to name our new microlot Ecuador after the largest, most active volcano in the region, Cotopaxi. Then we bought it all. Every single bag.

If you like coffee that is rich and sweet, smooth and balanced, with lively fruit notes that mellow into a rich, lingering finish, drop by our website and give Ecuador Cotopaxi a try. You won't be able to find it anyplace else!

For more information on the coffees of Ecuador, click here.

photo courtesy of Cafe Imports