The Dilemma of a Coffee Roaster, New Coffees Vs. Old Standbys

by Matthew Kellso April 09, 2015

Before I started selling coffee online, I was a home roaster. I typically would buy coffee from Sweet Marias each month. I'd buy enough of each varietal to roast it 3 or 4 times and then move on. Part of the fun was learning about new coffees and figuring out what roast profile I liked for each country or process. I developed a skill and had fun doing it. So I started selling coffee to friends and family. That lead to starting Sagebrush Coffee. However, I quickly found that I was losing customers, because I continued the practice of changing out my inventory on a regular basis. So I changed to a direct trade supplier to get more consistency in my offerings and quite frankly, the coffee was way better.

That was the primary change that caused Sagebrush Coffee to grow beyond anything we dreamt it would. We're having a blast with this and I still get to roast coffee the way I used to. At least a couple of times a month, I'll get a bunch of samples in and roast them and pick an amazing new coffee. The last few months we've found exceptional coffees like, El Salvador Angel's mountain & the Ethiopian Gold Label. Next month we have a Panama Geisha coffee and several new SWP decafs on their way. These new offerings are what keeps Sagebrush Coffee exciting to me, that and helping people find their favorite coffee ever.
So why don't I sleep? Because I cannot physically offer all of the great coffees that I run across. Batch sizes would get too small if we offered too many more coffees and we wouldn't be able to ship next day like we do today. So, when I find a new amazing coffee, I have to cut something from our portfolio. I have to get rid of someone's favorite coffee to make room for the new one. Sometimes availability makes those decisions for me. Like the Guatemalan Santos shortage made way for the Guatemalan Gold, but it only had one shipment of availability, so the Santos will fill that void again later this month. However, sometimes I make a decision and then get an email like, "Hey Matt, I cannot find the best coffee I've ever had on your site. Can you tell me when Costa Rica Terra Bella will be back in stock?" Yes, in a couple of days, because I'll reorder it now :).

This week I went through that exact decision process. I cupped about 8 different coffees, 2 PNG coffees & a bunch of Ethiopians. The decision I made was to add a PNG and drop nothing. However, some coffees that I have in stock will have to go. I'm pushing my threshold for number of types. Which means another sleepless night is coming up later this month...I can feel it.

Matthew Kellso
Matthew Kellso


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