Coffee, container vessels, labelling faux pas and Jack


We were supposed to be launching two new coffees this week, but alas compounded alongside the many challenges facing global trade and transportation in recent times someone made a simple labelling error !

Let’s start with the one piece of good news. We have a new boozy and juicy natural Colombian Caturra from Finca Los Alpes processed by the ‘Carbonic Maceration’ method. Full of Strawberries and banana with a sweet white chocolate finish. We roasted a small test batch and did a little send-out to some trusted regular customers and the response was unanimously positive.

Now to the bad..

You probably know that many products are in scarce supply right now and have been so since COVID came to visit last March. Coffee is no different. The basics are that container vessels loaded with containers that were on their way to their various destinations were stopped. Some of the goods might have been unloaded, some not. 

Global trading relies on these vessels to unload their cargo, then get reloaded with other containers (either full with goods destined for elsewhere or empty) to be returned eventually to the countries supplying the rest of the world with goods. That stopped. 

Consequently when the restrictions eased and shipping was allowed to restart the majority of the 20M (million) containers that exist on the planet were in the wrong place.. since then the global shipping network has been playing catchup (China has been manufacturing new containers as fast as they are able). The Evergiven sitiuation in the Suez added to the catastrophe and that catchup is taking way way longer than could have been anticipated. This has meant significant delays to moving all heavy goods around the globe and coffee is no exception. The bigger your pockets then the more likely you are to get ‘favourable’ treatment and be pushed towards to head of the queue.

We’ve been waiting for our new East African coffees to arrive and have been eager to launch a new delicious Natural Guji Ethiopian called Birbissa. It landed last week in Felixstowe and was immediately delivered to Vollers (one of the main UK holding warehouses for coffee in the UK). The importer promised it would be unloaded Friday and they would perform their landed quality assessment procedures before we could get them delivered here to the roastery. BUT (There’s always a but !). A frustrating email from the importer yesterday informed me that the sacks of this particular coffee were incorrectly labelled as Organic (they’re processed that way but the organic certification surcharge in the UK was not paid). So, an inspector has to go around and check the labels of each sack in that container (270 sacks of different coffees) and change the labels as required ! He’s not able to do that for another week or so !! ARRGGGHH !

Yup - after all that it’s down to some administrative error in labelling.

Alongside that we have just heard that the vessel that was supposed to stop in the Colombian port of Cartegena to pickup a container with some new coffees has been redirected due to delays and bypassed that stop completely. The exporter is frantically trying to rebook on another vessel, so we will get those juicy coffees at some point.. sometime. Included in that is the return of one of the most interesting and outstanding coffees we've ever had on the Crankhouse list from Diego Bermudez Finca El Paraiso using his 'thermal shock' process.

The other big news to hit the Crankhouse world is that we’re growing our staff. Jack Kiff is joining us starting next month and brings a huge amount of skills and knowledge to the team. He’s been working for Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood for the last 4 years or so both in the amazing cafe in Bath and more recently in the roastery working with Peak Water operations. Jack has had exposure to some of the most exquisite coffees in that time and he’ll be an incredibly valuable asset to all aspects of the business. If you’re local to Exeter and visit the cafe-roastery regularly then please say hi to Jack when you’re next in. Oh, and he’s a keen cyclist too which might not mean much to you but it means an awful lot to me !

 24th July 2021

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