Closing the Loop

Well it has been a little while but here is the second half to my previous post about our roasting philosophy. Closing the loop is our axiom for the roasting department of our operation, and it’s why we are confident to sell our coffee on a number of different platforms. What does that mean?

Well, by closing the loop, we refer to the quality control process of our coffee and our roasting procedure. We are on a bit of a hobby horse about consistency at The Single Guys. If you try a coffee off our shelf that you love, we hope you can return and get it the same way again and hopefully better.

Now that doesn’t necessarily mean every time you try our offering it will be always the same but it does mean that we strive to offer high quality every time. Our “loop” is simply a process by which we sample, vet, order, trial roast and then cup; only then do we feel confident to sell our product.

A coffee enters our loop when we receive a sample from a supplier. It is roasted and cupped to assess it’s attributes, compared with coffees of known quality or other samples and then selected for purchase. Once we receive the lot of coffee, we then try a number of roast profiles we feel may suit the coffee based on what we already know about it. We will roast with a certain type of application for it in mind such as whether it is just to be served for filter methods. Does it participate in a blend? Or is it solely a standalone single offering? This is a very exciting part of the process!

Once a coffee is in production, we take samples of every single roast we do (just in case you were wondering, we roast all our green beans separately and blend them after cupping them). Then, the next day, every roast is subject to a stringent cupping process and are scored and assessed blind by at least two of us so we are not biased at all. We use industry best practice scoring sheets to assess them and then rank the best roasts.

Once we are good and full of coffee (even though we spit) we then look at the roasting curves logged on our roasting software and then assign the curve that created the highest scoring roast. That is now our reference for the next time we roast the coffee! We can now rest easy. If a roast is better next time, we then upgrade that reference curve. It is a happy union of technology and craft! And yes, we have thrown out many batches which, for whatever reason, did not stack up… many… sob. We now know our coffee will hit the targets it needs to hit, in the bar, on the retail shelf, and for our wholesale clients.

Can you believe that some companies don’t give a thought to this kind of QC? Without it, our quality shoots off out of loop, and we are left with a “hope for the best” approach. Our coffee and our customers are too valuable for that.