Barista Magazine

DEC 2017-JAN 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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F O A M : N E W S + T R E N D S SWISS WATER COFFEE SERIES BRINGS TOP COFFEES TO DECAF YOU MAY HAVE HEARD THIS one before: Quality-dedicated specialty-coffee company searches out some of the top coffees in the world, and is now offering these prized gems in small quanti- ties to roasters while supplies last. While the Small Batch Series from Swiss Water has a similar pitch to the one above, there's something different about these coffees: There's no caffeine to be found. With the Small Batch Series, the Canada-based decaffeination company offers hyper- seasonal, highly traceable, and extremely tasty green coffees. "The Small Batch Series coffees are chosen based on cup quality fi rst and foremost," says Mike Strumpf, Swiss Water's direc- tor of coffee, "and they're meant to sell out and be short-term offerings." This may seem like a novel approach for decaffeinated coffee, but Mike says more and more roasters are seeking top quality in their decaf offerings. While Swiss Water launched the Small Batch Series back in 2014, Mike says it took the program some time to fi nd roasters who are excited about great decaf. "Our original Small Batch Series coffees were some of the most expensive decaffeinated coffees on the market," he says, "so we had to create a base of customers for these offerings. The roasters were out there—they just didn't realize there was a decaf that fi t their need." Coffees in the Small Batch Series are bought not just in small quantities (unlike Swiss Water's other offerings available year- round), but also at a higher target cup score than Swiss Water's standard selections. "That isn't to say that our standard offerings aren't tasty, just that the Small Batch Series coffees are excep- tional," says Mike. The Small Batch Series coffees are offered by the bag (about 130 pounds) of green coffee in order to be a feasible purchase for smaller roasters. Swiss Water sources the coffees through importers and direct relationships, then decaffeinates them through the Swiss Water Process. This chemical-free method uses a precise combination of water, temperature, and time to remove 99.9 percent of the caffeine from the beans, leaving the original fl avor and character of the coffee untouched. Once decaffeinated, the beans are warehoused in Vancouver, Canada, and either shipped to West Coast warehouses or directly to roasters. Swiss Water releases about fi ve Small Batch Series coffees each year. The fall offering was a decidedly fruit-forward Guatemalan coffee from Finca Palo Blanco, with fl avor notes including grape, mandarin, peach, dark chocolate, and caramel. "Huehuetenango is known for producing some of the fruitiest coffees in Guatemala, and this lot knocked our socks off," says Mike. "It is as fruity of a fully washed coffee as we have ever tasted." The next entry, released in December, is an organic coffee called Limu Kossa from Ethiopia's Oromia region. It's a natural-processed coffee that is full of Ethiopia's signature berry-rich fl avor. "We like to fi nd coffees from all over with lots of different fl avor profi les," Mike says. "Drastically different fl avor profi les can be intimidating for a roaster or café who only offers one decaffeinated coffee, but it isn't something to be afraid of." Swiss Water's efforts to offer top-quality decaffeinated coffees dovetails with market research indicating strong growth in the category among young coffee drinkers—particularly from the much-scruti- nized-and-coveted millennial demographic. A 2017 National Coffee Association report showed that decaf-coffee consumption in the U.S.A. is led by 18–24-year-olds, who represent 19 percent of the category. (In the 2016 report, the decaf category was led by the similarly youthful 25–39-year-old demographic at 20 percent.) The 2017 NCA report also showed that 66 percent of surveyed consumers agreed with the state- ment, "It's important to limit my coffee consumption." To Mike and Swiss Water, the decaf market is evolving, and no longer consists of older consumers and/or those who go exclusively for the caffeine-free option. "The decaf drinker today is very different from the decaf drinker of yesterday," Mike says. "More and more decaf drinkers are dual users—drinking both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffees. This tells me that the decaf drinker expects the same taste and quality from caffeinated and decaffeinated coffees." As roasters are seeing this increased decaf demand from modern-day consumers, they're gravitating toward programs like Small Batch Series that allow them to up their offerings. "Roasters didn't necessarily used to think about decaf in the same way as all of their other offerings," Mike says. "We can't take credit for changing everyone's mind about decaf, but the Small Batch Series has really helped." Small Batch Series coffees are available through Swiss Water's web- site, as well as at a recently launched store on the Cropster Hub. —Chris Ryan Swiss Water Process created the Small Batch Series in order to showcase smaller amounts of unique coff ees. Off ered several times a year from a range of producing countries, coff ees in the Small Batch Series program are hyper-seasonal and highly traceable—and, of course, decaff einated. 30 barista magazine

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