We’re just entering the British apple season, when apples plucked from the trees are bursting with flavour. The British strawberry season is another one we look forward to. In May and June British strawberries taste incredible. By late summer they start to lose their intensity and sweetness.
Coffee is the seed of a fruit. And just like other fruits, coffees grown around the world have their own seasons - and they taste better when they’re picked in season and at peak ripeness.
There are over 70 countries where coffee is produced and each harvests coffee at different times of year. That’s due to a number of factors including altitude, climate, shade intensity, annual rainfall and duration of the dry season, as well as technical skills and farming practices. Of course the beans also then need to be processed and shipped before they can be roasted by us. Fresh off the tree doesn’t mean straight into your cup!
Our job as roasters is to plan ahead to make sure that you’re getting the very best seasonal coffee and to judge the amount needed so that it doesn’t sit around for too long. It’s also about making sure that the coffee is stored properly. Green beans that have sat around too long will start to taste a bit woody once they’re roasted and they’ll lose some of the acidity and ‘zing’. That’s also a bit dependant on the bean - some origins will start to date much faster than others.
Even within the harvest there are differences. Coffee farmers tend to harvest from the bottom of the hill upwards, so the lower-grown beans ripen earlier than those further up the hill. The trees at the highest elevation are the last to harvest as these take the longest time to ripen. And that means denser, higher-quality beans harvested at the end of the season.
So what does seasonality mean for you, the consumer? It means you can’t necessarily get your favourite beans all year round. The coffees will change with the seasons. But it also means that there are other incredible seasonal origins to try instead. The best way to experience this is on our Coffee Adventure subscription, which follows the coffee crop calendar around the world, giving you a different bean every month at the peak of their seasonality.
We also created our two main blends - Argyll’s Secret Roast and Clyde Steamer with seasonality in mind. These blends have a distinctive flavour profile - one is bright and fruity while the other is chocolatey and nutty. We create these flavour profiles using different seasonal coffees throughout the year.
We also love to create our own seasonal blends, like our festive blend. The idea here is to use seasonal beans to create a flavour profile that fits a seasonal celebration. So we are looking at a lovely, rich and boozy coffee from Uganda that has just landed to create a coffee that tastes like Christmas. Keep your eyes peeled for our first autumn blend which we’re very excited about - it’s due to go live next week.