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Seasonality and Sensory Lab

Our buying philosophy and seasonality

The shape of the coffee list at any good roasting company is the hallmark of a green buyer. It is their major contribution to the company and their legacy for the future. As some of you know I have been on staff for a few months now, slowly making my mark on Sensory Lab and the coffee we buy. My buying philosophies push Sensory Lab deeper into the realm of relationship coffee and into the never-ending pursuit of freshness.

A big part of this philosophy is to buy in season and use coffee while it is at its best. You would have heard the term seasonal when it comes to your fruit and vegetables, and lets face it, fresh is always best. Coffee is the same, sort of. We don’t eat the fruit of the coffee (though it is quite delicious), instead we just consume the bean, or to be technical about it, the seed. A seed can last months without losing its vibrancy and depth of flavour, but eventually the flavours fade, and the coffee loses its characteristics. Balancing this life span with harvest times is part of the art of buying seasonally.

Using opposing or complementary harvests to make up inventory, and constantly monitoring coffee stocks for quality is the key to the seasonal inventory. This is something Sensory Lab has not explored to its full extent before. Always on the look out for ways to improve, I am introducing seasonal buying as the first part of my overall strategy.

You will soon be seeing new coffee enter our catalogue that you may not have seen before. Our first introduction to opposing harvests will come from Colombia. Traditionally we purchase our blend Colombians exclusively from the Huila region in the far south of Colombia. As the Huila coffee begins to reach the end of their lifespan, our blends will now be invigorated with coffee from Cauca and Narino, in the West. Huila harvests in the December months, Cauca and Narino harvest mid year. Thus with this technique, we can always be assured of fresh coffee. I am happier than ever to see variation and rotation on our seasonal roster and hope to implement similar changes across our total inventory in the near future.

Of course this means that you can’t get your favourite coffee all year round, but when you can you will always know it is at its best when it comes from us. I love that coffee is ephemeral, it adds to the beauty of it. It is an agricultural product which ebbs and flows with the season. My belief is that we should celebrate the terroir and season just as much as much as we celebrate the producers.

Conscious that our customers require a consistent blend adds challenge and excitement to this style of buying. Our blends will continue with the same profile year round but will be enhanced with a new level of freshness. Changes in components in a blend are just an indicator of increased quality. With so many amazing coffees on offer around the world it is always possible to find what you are looking for if you look hard enough.

The quality of our coffee is the yardstick by which we measure ourselves. Let us embrace seasonality and the pursuit of consistent quality and roasting perfection.


– Lucy Ward

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