The coffee-growing region of Yirgacheffe is small but fertile, producing some of the world’s most well-known beans. The patented YirgZ takes the classic Yirgacheffe taste profile to the next level by ensuring zero defects. The coffee is rigorously sorted in a process that includes mechanical sorting by size and density, then careful hand sorting that takes three times longer than conventional coffee.
To show appreciation for this work, Keffa pays the sorters three times higher than the average wage. Workers say the extra income helps them support their communities and send their children to school, highlighting the importance of specialty coffee premiums and direct trading practices.
At every step in the process, we take the extra steps to make our coffee the most sustainable it can possibly be: we maintain direct trade relationships; roast our beans using energy-efficient approaches in our low footprint roastery; use biodegradable packaging for our coffee and offset our transportation with Bullfrog’s bio-diesel program.
Propeller has also attained B Corp status, a rigorous international certification for companies that create local prosperity, strong communities, and a sustainable environment.
Finding unique, high-quality coffees is a never-ending quest for us. Our ultimate goal is to purchase 80-90% of our coffee directly from farmers. Every coffee we buy must be chosen through a meticulous selection process. An inspection of the unroasted (green) beans is done to check for any visible defect such as insect damage, black beans, sour beans, broken beans or foreign matter. This rules out a lot of coffees - upwards of 80% of the world's coffees are poor quality and exhibit all sorts of defects that would never make the cut for us. If the sample passes this first test we will lightly roast 100 grams of it in our sample roaster. Then we will cup this sample according to SCAA cupping protocols. The purpose of cupping is to test for quality and flavour. We score all samples using SCAA cupping forms and on the cupping app Catador. If a coffee meets all our criteria (free of defects, & has good acidity, body, balance, and sweetness) and scores high enough, we will consider purchasing it.
2016 Propeller was named micro-roaster of the year by industry trade publication Roast Magazine.
Using a piece of roasting software called Cropster, we record every single batch of coffee that we roast on our Loring SmartRoaster (uses about 85% less energy than a traditional machine). We use this collection of roast profiles a bit like a recipe book for coffee. When a new coffee arrives we first do a bit of homework to figure out a good initial recipe/profile to use on this coffee. We measure the moisture content and density, then check the bean varietal, growing conditions, and elevation, and then search our recipe book for a coffee that we’ve previously roasted that is similar to this new coffee. We will roast the coffee, then cup/taste it and discuss how we can tweak the roast profile to develop it to its full potential.