Green coffee sales are the core of Royal Coffee’s business. Green coffee ships in various packaging types, many different processing methods, and from a wide variety of different origins. Let’s take a quick overview of the different types of green coffee Royal carries, and some of our favorite examples of great green coffee.
Arabica & Robusta
Coffee’s two most common cultivated species are arabica (Coffea arabica) and robusta (Coffea canephora). The arabica species comes from a more delicate plant and has a gentler, sweeter flavor. Robusta trees are hardy and disease-resistant and produce coffee with higher caffeine content and taste earthier and more bitter.
Royal Coffee carries mostly arabica and a little bit of robusta. Many roasters carry exclusively arabica coffee, but some roasters like to blend the two. Robusta is a common ingredient in Italian-style espressos, and some roasters and coffee drinkers appreciate the extra jolt robusta can provide.
Coffee can also be categorized by quality. Specialty coffee is usually defined by a score of 80 points or above on a 100-point scale. Coffees below 80 points may be commodity/commercial grade or potentially defective.
Royal Coffee carries almost exclusively Specialty Grade green coffees. We occasionally have a client interested in commercial grades, which are less expensive and often available in bulk. We never intentionally source defective green coffee, but sometimes sensory defects occur in a few cups out of an otherwise clean batch. In this case, we work with our suppliers to fix the situation and always inform our customers if there is a known defect, which will almost always be sold at a discount.
Macro, Micro, and Nano lots
There are not specific definitions for these terms, but macrolots and microlots help coffee buyers to distinguish the size (usually measured in 60 kg or 132 lb bags) of a particular batch or “lot” of coffee. Microlots might be 5 bags or 20 bags or even up to 50 bags depending on who you ask. Macrolots usually measure in the hundreds of bags, whereas a “nanolot” might mean just 1 or 2 bags, or even less! Royal sources lots of all sizes for customers, large and small. Check out this guide to coffee bag sizes.
Estates, Cooperatives, and Associations
The scale at which coffee is grown varies widely across the world. At the largest, coffee estates produce green coffee traceable back to a single farm. These farms may range in size, however, so both a 1000-hectare operation and a 4-hectare plot may both be considered estate coffee if the lot’s integrity is preserved and not blended with others.
Cooperatives and associations provide coffee farmers with options to help process, select, and blend coffee. Cooperatives and associations will often blend “day-lots” (that is, all the coffee that was delivered by various producers in a single day) so that a batch of coffee will contain beans from multiple farmers.
While not all the green coffee Royal carries is certified, the majority is. We proudly source many different certified beans, but the main certificates include Organic, Fairtrade (FT), and Rainforest Alliance (RFA). Less common certificates include Biodynamic and Smithsonian Migratory Bird Council (SMBC). While many of the coffees Royal buys and sells are grown under shade, most of these do not necessarily carry a “shade grown” certificate.
Organic certified coffees are grown without artificial pesticides and fertilizers. Fairtrade certified coffees guarantee a certain wage above commodity pricing to the farmer or cooperative. Rainforest Alliance certificates are issued to farm with preserved forests, water recycling and/or cleaning, or other environmental issues. Biodynamic coffees have a particular harvest cycle according to lunar rhythms and farmers return natural resources to the earth. SMBC certifies coffee farms which provide healthy environments for migratory bird life. It is common for coffees to have more than one certificate, the most common being Fairtrade and Organic, which we abbreviate FTO.
Royal Coffee also facilitates “Direct Trade,” which means that we assist roasters who purchase coffee directly from farmers or exporters by helping with the logistics (that is, we ship the coffee and assist with import documentation). Strictly speaking, Direct Trade is not a certificate – it is a type of commercial relationship.
Single Origins & Blends
Blending coffee is an age-old tactic to improve flavor or increase inventory efficiency. Two or more different types of green or roasted coffee may be blended together to create a new blend. Royal coffee offers a very limited number of “pre-roast” blends, including our popular ‘78 Espresso Blend.
However, almost all of Royal’s green coffee is considered “Single Origin.” Single origin means unblended coffee from one place, usually just specific to a country. A single-origin coffee might sometimes include beans from multiple farms, but these will almost always be from farms located in a single or similar region.
Countries Where Coffee is Grown
Coffee grows in many countries (sometimes called “origins”), almost exclusively in the “tropics” between the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn. Royal regularly purchases and sells green coffee from around 30 of these countries, including:
Bolivia, Brazil, Burundi, Colombia, Costa Rica, The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia (including the islands of Bali, Flores, Java, Sulawesi, and Sumatra), Jamaica, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Peru, Rwanda, Tanzania,Timor-Leste, Uganda, USA (Hawaii, sometimes called “Kona”), Yemen
Other coffee origins Royal sometimes sources from, or is looking into purchasing from, include: China, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, USA (California and Puerto Rico), Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Coffee Processing Types
Green coffee goes through a number of steps before it reaches your cup. Some of these steps occur after harvest but before export and dramatically affect the coffee’s flavor. Royal coffee sources many different coffee processes. The two most common are called “Natural” (or Dry Process) and “Washed” (sometimes Wet Process). But there are many others, including Pulped Natural, Honey, Semi-Washed, Wet Hulled, Anaerobic and Carbonic Maceration, Eco-pulped, and others.
If you’re interested in reading more, you can check out this informational blog entry and infographic.
Coffee Varieties & Cultivars
The arabica coffee species is often known to coffee professionals by particular varieties or cultivars (similar to wine varietals). The most common cultivars Royal Coffee carries include Bourbon, Typica, Caturra, Catimor, Catuaí, SL28, and Ethiopian landraces often collectively misnomered as “heirloom varieties.” Other popular but less common cultivars include Gesha (or Geisha), Pacamara, and Mokha (or Mocca / Mokka).
A more complete list of varieties and cultivars can be found on our blog here, which is the second part of a series that also covers in more detail how to understand coffee plant types and how they are developed.
Royal carries a year-round lineup of decaf green coffee from various origins. While we no longer carry Methylene Chloride (MC) method for health and environmental reasons, we offer chemical free Swiss Water and Mountain Water processes, as well as Ethyl Acetate (EA, plant-based) options. Most of our water process coffees are called “Royal Select,” which means that we purchased the green coffee directly from the source prior to decaffeination. In all cases, these decaf coffees are processed to remove caffeine but retain all their original flavors.
Royal Coffee Best Sellers
Want to know what some of our customer’s favorite coffees are? Here’s a list of popular perennial options.
- Costa Rica Monte Crisol
- El Salvador Cerro Las Ranas Honey
- Indonesia (including the islands of Bali, Flores, Java, Sulawesi, and Sumatra)
- Papua New Guinea (PNG) Organic Siane Chimbu