What are Coffee Microlots?

A little about the evolution of coffee

Each period in the history of coffee consumption is called “wave”. There are 3 waves that describe these periods: first wave, second wave and third wave.

The first wave, from the 1930s to the 1960s, was a mass production due to the explosion of coffee consumption. Coffee was necessary rather than appreciated, and low price was the main concern.
The second wave, from the 1960’s to the 1990’s, was when specialty coffee came on the scene and large coffee shop chains,  started to offer a higher quality coffee, but standardized by a darker roast. It was in this wave that the use of espresso machines expanded greatly.
The third wave, from the 90’s until today, is the period when specialty coffee started to be tasted for its aromas and flavors. Just like wine, coffee also has its terroir. This wave saw the emergence of the first small specialized coffee shops, which value quality over quantity.

What are coffee microlots and why are they so exceptional?

Coffee microlots

The term microlot refers to small lots of coffee with excellent quality, produced on certified properties, with a full traceability system, allowing access to information such as place of production, variety, and even the type of fertilizer used.
Specialty coffees
have distinctive aromas and flavors. The microlots, in turn, take this category to new stages. Their portions are limited and super-exclusive, with unique origins.

For this to happen, it is necessary that these types of coffee have some peculiarities in their production, or in the sensory analysis, that differentiate them from the others. In addition to these points, the beans are harvested by hand, are very selective, and therefore their production is smaller.

The micro-lot concept emerged when some farmers realized that within their land some coffee trees were producing differentiated beans.

The attractive appearance and the excellent level of maturity with higher sugar concentration were the points that led producers to believe that these beans were capable of developing an enormous complexity of flavors and aromas.

But for a coffee to be in the microlot category, it is important that these special characteristics are confirmed. To do this, sensory analyses are used, performed on a very small quantity of beans.

What are the characteristics and particularities of microlots?

The origin of coffee microlots is in the earth, but it is not only nature that expresses their qualities. The work of the producer also has an influence. The manual harvest is done when the beans are fully ripe. This means that the sugars are fully formed. After harvesting the beans, thry are dried slowly in the sun. With this procedure a full-bodied, sweeter beverage is obtained.

Coffee microlots are increasingly gaining prominence in the market. Their high quality and exclusivity make the bags reach prices higher than those of other beans, which undoubtedly attests the exceptional standard of these products. Thus, the consumer has the privilege of getting to know and consuming a unique beverage.

There is no formula to produce a microlot. However, some criteria must be analyzed for the coffee to be classified in this way.

The first criterion means that the beans do not contain any foreign elements, such as twigs, stones, or clods of earth. They also cannot have undergone any type of undesirable fermentation.

The second parameter gives us the idea that the beans that are part of this lot have practically the same characteristics, established especially by the ripeness point at the time of harvest.

The sensorial analysis of the coffee takes into account the methodology of the Specialty Coffee Association of America, which defines the standards of cleanliness, sweetness, body, and acidity of the beverage. After the analysis, the coffee is scored according to each of these items. The minimum score must be 80 to be classified in the specialty coffee category.

A high quality coffee microlot does not exceed 15 bags of 60 kg as a volume limit, statistically determined by the SCA (Specialty Coffee Association) methodology.

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