Is small and traceable better? Or just marketing fluff?

What is a micro lot? It’s a term “used by many members of the coffee industry to refer to small, exclusive, and traceable lots of coffee.” I consider Bea’s Knees Farm a micro lot according to this definition, one of many described in the article:

For producers, the term often describes a small lot of a single coffee variety that comes from one area and has been processed together.

Note, in that same paragraph in the article the man says, “Micro lot is not a quality indicator.” We are not the pinnacle of Kona coffee, and we aren’t attempting to be. We are one family-sized lot, working honestly, doing the best we can with what we have. We are not yet profitable, but we hope to someday be. We are doing things differently, not necessarily better, than the way my grandparents ran things. For one thing, we are not a family of two adults and six children laborers.

My mom, uncle, and their peers all mention how hardworking their parents were, working every day except New Year’s Day, and the kids-now-kupuna (elders) worked hard, too. Some still today work very hard out in the coffee land in addition to their other day job or in their retirement. They know coffee and they can’t witness it go wild or get taken over by weeds; there’s a strong sense of duty to care for the ‘aina (land).

Nowadays coffee trees produce less than the old days for various reasons. And you don’t often see pickers lugging around tall ladders. We utilize paid professional help who aren’t relatives, and we sell higher up the food chain, roasted coffee from only this farm directly to the end consumer. Grandpa used to sell his parchment, which got further processed along with many others’ coffee and sold as general, regional Kona coffee.

On a related note, I have written about and provided links about California-grown coffee. I’m still not drinking the kool-aid about the viability of Californian coffee, but I enjoy following the topic. Here’s an October article interviewing the driving force, Jay Ruskey: A Chat with Jay Ruskey About California-Grown Coffee. He and his cohort farmers have micro lots or something similar, and they market the heck out of them, enough to command $200+ per pound of roasted coffee. He even has meetings to try and entice more Californian farmers to plant coffee. What kind of farm and situation will their grandchildren inherit?

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