A different brand of consistency

A different brand of consistency

October 23, 2015
Paul Haworth
Educational Series

Hello there. It’s me, Paul. In case you don’t know, I am responsible for sourcing and buying all of the different coffees for Cartel. I wanted to take some time to address something often misunderstood about Cartel coffee sourcing. Specifically, you may be wondering why we change our coffees so often and why we don’t have at least a couple offerings year-round. Allow me to demystify this…


What if I told you that our actual core product is not coffee? Well, it is coffee—but from another perspective, our core product is quality. We are so obsessed with quality that we have to be able to say no to a lot of really decent coffees. In fact, for every coffee we carry I generally have said no to 15 others.

Furthermore, coffee is seasonal and every harvest has an optimum period of roasting and consumption, referred to as ‘fresh crop’. Anything after this period (referred to as ‘past crop’) becomes sub-par by Cartel standards. This creates a built-in time limit, typically allowing coffees to only be around for a fraction of a year.


Paradoxically, this variation allows our product to be incredibly consistent. We may be constantly changing our featured farms and estates, but this flexibility actually allows us to source and offer the same caliber of coffee all year, every year. This process can involve heartbreak when a favorite farm from a previous year disappoints, but it is necessary for the sake of our obsession.


I once had a customer ask me why we only carry five or six coffees. I kindly explained that we actually offer hundreds of coffees; we just don’t offer them all at the same time. This led to a very good conversation about the definition of quality and the value of consistency alongside variety.

Specialty coffee is all about rewarding greatness. We need to all be willing to reward that greatness wherever and whenever it may happen. My promise to you is to do my part in bringing examples of this to the table, from every corner of the globe.