Our focus has always been on the cup of coffee on your table. Everything else is secondary. The countries of origin, farming methods, organic standards, and roasting process are important subsets, but they are meaningful only if the cup is excellent. Step one has always been to obtain the highest grade green coffees. Step two is to roast them to perfection. Step three is to deliver them to the customer as soon as possible.
From the day we started Equator we decided to sell the coffee on a slim profit margin, predicting that increasing demand would provide enough profit. This strategy has brought other benefits: Equator coffee moves off the shelf quickly, giving the customer a fresh product. The $17-a-pound coffee from other roasters can sit on the shelf for months. From time to time customers ask us, “What’s new in the coffee business?”, and it is hard to come up with an answer. Good coffee is grown as it has been for hundreds of years, and we roast it essentially the same way we have for decades, because that is what our customers like. Maybe coffee roasting is a tradition that doesn’t need big changes.
Just as cigars, beer, and parmesan cheese were perfected centuries ago, good coffee is a tradition that shouldn’t be messed with just for the sake of novelty.
Things can happen outside our control (for example the departure of Zimbabwe and Bolivia from the market) but we are nonetheless able to keep supplying our customers with the best coffees as long as the growers remain dedicated to their craft.
“You can get a rich, crema-topped espresso just about anywhere (in Italy). And it doesn’t come with a lecture from some tattooed, fedora-wearing barista”. That’s a quote from a Bon Appetit writer in a recent issue dedicated to the food of Italy. What a clever dig at the coffee culture in our own country, where new coffee roasters come up with another gimmick every week (and always accompanied by that $17-a-pound price tag). We prefer common sense to pretentiousness. That’s what we’ve relied on for over twenty years, and our customers like it that way.