We don't create good coffee, we preserve it.
The coffee trade is long and slow. To get that fresh cup of Kaldi's coffee to taste its best, we start by sourcing the world's finest harvests and lots. That means constantly traveling to origin to find better coffees, working closely with our importers, and closing the feedback loop with our farming partners to create mutually beneficial relationships.
Luckily, coffee is grown in many different places around the world. Each of these places has its own set of cultural habits regarding coffee cultivation.
Coffee does grow on a tree. These trees produces small, grape-sized cherries that usually contain two seeds. These two seeds are what we will eventually roast and turn into coffee "beans."
To start with, different coffee producing regions grow different varieties of coffee that give each seed a unique flavor trait. Next, the coffee must be harvested from the trees. Picking ripe cherries instead of unripe cherries will vastly improve the final quality of a cup of coffee. Getting farmers to take this step of quality over quantity is one of the largest barriers to specialty coffee today, but one that is being steadily adopted as customers support the specialty coffee industry.
After harvesting, the coffee fruit must be removed from the seeds. This process is done in a number of ways that involves fermentation, washing/cleaning, and drying. The type of processing used gives the coffee a very unique flavor and is usually based on cultural traditions. More and more, experimental practices are taking place, such as "lactic fermentation", which we see as a sign of customer feedback getting back to farmers and symbiotic relationships forming.
Once the coffee beans are dry, they must go through a final milling process to remove a tough layer of skin surrounding the seed called parchment. The coffee is then sorted and cleaned.
Getting coffee to St. Louis in a timely manner after harvest is also a challenge. The fresher the crop, the more delicious the cup. We have tried to improve upon this freshness by using new shipping materials that are less prone to aging, absorbing scents, and trapping moisture.
When the coffee finally arrives, we sample roast and cup it a number of times to determine a roast profile. Last, we do our best every day to preserve and present that quality to you.