At Laika, we have two distinct approaches when it comes to finding new coffees. With our micro-lot coffees, which we roast to be best enjoyed when served black, we taste dozens of samples throughout the year. We embrace the natural variation of the coffee production cycle, and taste as many coffees as possible to find those which we can best represent. The most interesting part of this process is that we’re being constantly surprised. Sometimes it’s something unexpected, like a new and innovative method of producing coffee. Other times, it’s tasting a coffee from a producer whose coffee we have had before, only to find that it’s even better than the previous season. On the other hand, when it comes to our house coffees, we have a very different approach.
Our most popular coffees are our house coffees: No1, No2, and No3. No1 has plenty of presence through milk, but is also a nuanced coffee when served black. No2 has the most body of every coffee we roast, and is designed to be sweet and rich when served with milk. No3 is our house black coffee, one which is bright and complex. Above all, these are the coffees which most people associate with our style of coffee roasting and buying when they think of Laika. With our house coffees, we not only want to roast coffees which represent their origins and narratives, but who’s profiles consistent all year round. So, with our “singles only” approach at Laika, how do we achieve this?
For our house coffees, our approach to sourcing is different to that of our micro lots. For No1, No2, and No3, we look for lots which meet the profiles of each coffee as closely as possible. As opposed to our micro lots, where we taste as many lots as we can, and choose our favourites, with our house coffees, we send out briefs to our suppliers to find coffees of specific profiles. Then, by working with capable, trustworthy sourcing partners, we can secure lots from individual farmers, mills, and cooperatives, which not only meet our needs, but also represent our focus for “singles only”. Sometimes these coffees come from large farms, which can produce many tonnes of coffee each season, and other times these are small producers who can only grow up 300kgs of a quality we need. This is why you may notice that the lots we choose for our house coffees can sometimes change within weeks or months. With out approach to house coffees, we are able to represent both large and small producers as best we can, while also maintaining a consistent profile throughout the year.
In both approaches to sourcing, the goal is the same: to find the best coffees we can, and represent them well as we know how. For our micro-lots, we can embrace the variant characteristics in each coffee, and share what makes them interesting and distinctive. For No1, No2, and No3, sourcing is about finding a balance between securing the best coffees available, and creating consistency for those who drink them.
PS: This photo was taken by the Condor team, who act as our sourcing partner in Colombia. See here is coffee being taken by mule from Juan Pablo Ovieda's farm in Tolima the local mill for processing. Jaun's coffee was one which we had first selected for use as a house coffee. After tasting this lot again, the flavour and character was so surprising that we decided to reserve this to be roasted and represented in our micro-lot range.