Quality control and Purchasing at Paso Paso.

Quality control and Purchasing at Paso Paso. 


Part 1: Purchasing


Designing the menu

In the last few weeks we finished purchasing our complete menu that we will feature from July 2024 to July 2025. The company has committed to 8.500 kilo of unroasted coffee spread out over 34 different lots of coffee. To come to this selection, it was only the lots from the Syoum Family that I cupped prior to buying.There were many new lots I hadn't tried yet, and we could not commit to all of them. All other coffees were purchased, without tasting them in the roastery. With the exception of two lots that Jorge, Daniela and Alex asked me to double check the quality on. We’re able to do this due to the incredible trust and mutual dependency on success we have created at Paso Paso. That doesn’t mean no quality control prior to roasting happens, it just shifts the power to the producers. We’ll dive into this in part 2 of this series.

When planning the menu we thought about a range of factors to consider. Finally, we landed on one blend and three single origin segments. The specifics are still under discussion but the working titles are; “signature coffees”, “seasonal coffees’’ and “wonder series”.


Year-Round Signature Coffees

 First of all, we build a solid foundation that would be available year-round: the signature coffees.. Because we are a collective of coffee producers we want to represent each farm at all times. These coffees are what we consider to represent the signature flavors of our farms. They’re also coffees that are accessible in flavor for people who are not deeply engaged in the specialty coffee industry, yet also sufficiently interesting and exciting for more seasoned specialty coffee drinkers. 

These lots are selected with the cafés that serve our coffee in mind. Some lots lend themselves well as single origin espresso, others will cut through milk and you can serve a great pour over with each one of them. Finally, these are the coffees that our farms produce the most of, so it is essential we find an outlet for them. The scores for these lots are between 84 and 86 points. Our quality standard is clean and transparent flavors with plenty of sweetness in each coffee. We aim for a price level where our target audience can comfortably purchase a kilo a month of this coffee and cafés can use it in their espresso grinders.

Aquiares Estate - home of the Grand Peaberry in Costa Rica.

Exciting seasonal offers

The second layer in our menu are our seasonal offerings. Every couple of months we will rotate three different coffees. Usually these coffees are of a different process and or variety, compared to the signature offerings. This allows consumers to compare the seasonal offer to the established base offering of the signature coffees. These coffees are curated in a way that they add diversity to the menu and keep our clients engaged.

From the farm side, there are many reasons to produce these different coffees. The principle reason is to offer a wider variety of flavor,  making the farm’s offerings more engaging. To reach this differentiated flavor, more costs are incurred as well as the cost of opportunity, this translates to a higher selling price. A different profile does not necessarily mean a higher score, at Paso Paso this range scores from 85 to 87 points. We are confident that we can make the higher price point work as our audience is likely willing to pay more for the novelty aspect of the differentiated offerings, especially since they can compare it against the base of the signature coffees. If someone values the seasonal offerings more than the signature, they can continue to explore different coffees each season. If the signature offerings provide sufficient value, they can always rely on those coffees being there for them. 

Plenty of Diversity of Los Pirineos in El Salvador.

Pushing the boundaries with the wonder series

The top of our pyramid is called ‘wonder series’. Sometimes little miracles happen, by design or accident, on our farms. Coffees you will find here feature intense and rare flavors that push the boundaries of the industry forward. Consumers can purchase these coffees to have a unique experience and can deepen their knowledge about specialty coffee and what is possible. The experiences are not isolated, as these very limited editions co-exist alongside our signature and seasonal offerings. 

 The low volume of these offerings make the per-kilo-price significantly higher. Coffee is an industry of scale at every step of the way, at this small scale the costs of agricultural processing and international trade bureaucratics quickly add up. Nevertheless, we believe that the unique experiences are worth it. Coffees in this range can cup up to and over 90 points, yet are selected on unique profiles more than anything else. 

Dawit selecting wonder series cherries at Bette Buna - Taferi Kela.

Conclusions

Through this blogpost I wanted to shine a light on what’s to come at Paso Paso, all the whilst demonstrating thoughtful menu design. We took into consideration the opportunities created at the farms, the needs of the cafés & retailers and the wishes of the consumers. This allowed us to build a menu that is accessible, diverse and novel for our clients all the whilst providing a stable and layered income for our farms. We will share the full menu in the coming weeks whilst we wrap up the final details. 


Stay tuned for part 2 of this series regarding quality control and executing this purchase strategy, 

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