Why are Some Coffees Only Available Seasonally?
February 24, 2021

Why are Some Coffees Only Available Seasonally?

Some freshly roasted coffees are available year-round from coffee roasters, while others are only available for short periods and are known as seasonal coffees.  In this blog we look at why some coffees are only available for short durations at specific times of year.

Like all fresh food, coffee is a seasonal product and the timing of a particular coffee harvest depends mainly on its growing location, or origin.  Although most coffee is grown in a narrow band between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, there are in fact over 70 coffee producing countries.  Each of them harvests coffee at very different times of year, due to variations in climate and other growing conditions, and it is the timing of these harvests that determines when coffees become available for roasters.  The chart below indicates the typical harvest time-frames for some of the main coffee producing countries of the world.  

However, the determining factor for whether a coffee is sold as “seasonal”, rather than being available year-round, is the time it takes for the unroasted or “green" beans to lose their flavour.  While some coffees can be stored in green bean form for up to 14 months, others deteriorate and lose flavour after only four months.  It’s the green bean processing steps, primarily the drying and storage methods, which vary by origin and have most influence on how long it takes for the flavour to fade.  Green coffee that has started to taste old, otherwise known as “past crop” flavour, will taste woody and/or vegetal once roasted.  Sweetness and acidity will diminish as well.

It’s the coffees which deteriorate in green bean format most quickly that generally become the seasonal, limited edition, coffees.  And, it’s these coffees which we feel are the most expressive examples of both our producing partners and the place of origin, making them well worth a try.  Coffees in our new Limited Edition Seasonal Coffee collection certainly fit this description.  We offer them to you while they are in peak flavour, roasting them before their sweetness and acidity start to diminish.  And by the time they have sold-out, or gone past their best, the seasons will have changed, and there will be new harvests of different coffees for you to explore and enjoy.

What should I do if the coffee I love is out of season?

For people who love coffees that aren’t offered year round, we encourage taking the time to really taste and note a few flavours that stand out.  Customers can find flavour descriptors on the front of all of our bags and boxes to help find coffees in a profile they may enjoy—even if it’s from a producer or country they’ve never tried before.

View our Seasonal Coffees here



The Coffee Harvest Schedule:

 Table Source: Cafe Society