Microlot coffee has become more popular with the rise of third-wave coffee shops. But what is it, and why is it more expensive than regular coffee? Is it worth the extra price? Read on to deepen your understanding of microlot coffee and to learn the difference between it, and single origin coffee beans.
What is Microlot Coffee?
The term ‘microlot’ is used in specialty coffee often and can have varying definitions depending on who you ask in the industry. Generally, microlot coffee is coffee traceable to a particular region or smaller sized lot, where the beans undergo the same climate, soil, altitude, and processing.
We suggest clarifying with the coffee place or store you are buying from as to what their definition of microlot means when they label their beans.
How does Microlot Coffee Vary?
Microlot coffee gives buyers and/or roasters the opportunity to offer a unique and carefully curated coffee experience at a premium price. Each roaster will have different criteria for microlot coffees they roast and sell, but oftentimes microlots will be more sustainably grown and produced, have more ethically compensated labor, higher standards of quality, or some combination of all three. It’s a way that a roaster can shine and show off their very best beans.
For growers, microlot coffee is used to identify and cultivate higher-quality coffees at a premium price. Growing and processing one plot of coffee beans separately requires more time and expense from the farmer, but it also allows them to share their very specific beans that can only be grown on their land and its unique soils, at their altitude, and using their own methods. (Source)
Why Should I Buy Microlot Coffee?
There are several reasons why you would want to buy microlot coffee. With Microlot coffee it’s easier to ensure that your coffee is sustainably farmed and harvested. Microlot coffees are also pure and specific/unique in taste since the beans usually come from one small coffee lot, or are processed at the same washing station on the same day. Whereas single origin coffee beans can be a blend from a large region within the same country, microlot is specific to one smaller lot.
Additionally, microlot coffee is a vehicle for long-term relationships between producers and buyers. According to Union Terra of O’Coffee Brazilian Estates, this is good for both parties and is more sustainable because the feedback from buyers is easier to implement on a small scale. Microlots guarantee that we truly know where our coffee is coming from and what factors make it taste the way it tastes.
Not convinced? Watch this video to learn more about how microlot coffee is good for farmers:
Examples of Microlot Coffee
If you’re looking to try some microlot coffee, here are our top recommendations:
- Guatemala Santa Felisa Gesha Honey, a honey-processed coffee that comes from an award-winning coffee microlot in Guatemala and tends to sell out quickly.
- Santa Felisa Caturra Orange Honey, from the same farm in Guatemala as the gesha, this gesha has notes of melon, jasmine, and caramel.
- Panama Gesha Lot 290, this record-breaking gesha is naturally-processed on a microlot that uses no pesticides or herbicides.
- Costa Rica Honey Duo, the Las Lajas micromill's signature production style produces both black and red honey coffees that are uniquely delicious.
The Future of Microlot Coffee
Microlot coffee is here to stay although it still has no standard definition and therefore lacks some consistency throughout the industry. We should work towards standardization of the microlot term to help establish a reliable product and definition.
Ordering sustainably grown microlot coffee is a way to support producers specifically and allows buyers to truly sample unique coffees and know exactly where they came from.