The term "Microlot" or "micro lot" is used quite often in the specialty coffee industry, but as with many topics and terms related to coffee, the meaning can vary and there is no strict definition for the term. For more information on the term “specialty coffee”, see our previous blog article: What is Specialty Coffee?
Microlots can mean different things to different players in the coffee industry including farmers, co-ops/processing centers, exporters, importers, coffee traders, roasters, etc. and can refer to any of the following:
- Characterized by the importance of sustainably produced coffee that’s been processed with extra attention and provides a unique coffee experience
- A lot of coffee that is more carefully sorted and processed separate from other larger lots
- Specific production volumes, cupping scores, lot and farm sizes, and prices per pound
- Having come from one portion of a farm or a certain altitude
- A specific lot of one single varietal/cultivar (the type or sub-species of coffee) such as Blue Mountain
- A lot that is harvested and processed on the same day in one batch
- A specific lot that is found to be exceptional in terms of cupping score and displaying desirable characteristics
- Can be from one farm, or a number of farms in a given region
- A small lot of an expertly crafted blend including the finest characteristics from a selection of varietals/cultivars to achieve a unique and desirable flavor profile
- A lot which reflects extra planning, effort, labor, and attention to detail and in which farmers are paid premium prices per pound
- High standards with best practices in farming techniques, processing and protection during exporting and storage
Interestingly, a Microlot may or may not be an indicator of quality to all players along the coffee supply chain, but Microlots are often associated with high quality coffee. At the most basic level, a Microlot is distinguished as a smaller volume of coffee that has been separated from other, larger lots, for sorting and processing and for one of, or many, of the reasons listed above.
When we look for a Microlot to add to our lineup of offerings, our interpretation of a Microlot is based on the following:
- Premium wages to farmers for a given Microlot
- Sustainable practices
- Quality of varietal/cultivar (the type or sub-species of coffee tree)
- Attention and care given to the lots (farming, harvesting, processing and protection during export)
- The attention given to achieve a high quality and unique flavor profile
In addition to the characteristics listed above, a Microlot for us is also defined as being a single lot of green coffee that we have imported from a specific harvest date.
The protection of the coffee during export and storage is one element of Microlot selection that is especially important to us as a roaster. The care in curation of a specific Microlot, harvesting, processing, etc. can easily be diminished if the green coffee is not protected from moisture, mold development, mycotoxins, etc. during the export and storage of the green coffee beans. To protect the integrity and freshness of the coffee we look for hermetic storage solutions to be in place. Stay tuned to KAHA Coffee Roasters for a future blog post describing the importance of hermetic storage solutions.
We believe that coffee is very subjective and we encourage everyone to experiment with different coffees, different brewing methods, different grind sizes, etc. We feel that when you do, you will find that coffee is more than what you probably thought it was and you may find yourself having a greater appreciation for all that coffee has to offer!