September 2022
Matthew Wyne

Sourcing Coffee Beans for NOLA Coffee Liqueur

Choosing coffee beans isn't just about great flavor, it's also about social responsibility.

From time to time we’re asked whether or not we are utilizing Fair Trade beans in our NOLA coffee liqueur. The short answer is that the beans are not certified Fair Trade, but the short answer rarely tells the whole story.

By and large, Fair Trade establishes a minimum price for coffees purchased to keep growers from undercutting one another and driving the local price down. We have always purchased coffees based on blind sampling—relying on flavor and aromatics alone to guide us. While we haven’t done it intentionally, the price points for the coffees that we’ve purchased have always been well above the threshold for Fair Trade, and those coffees are often (but not always) organic as well. With that said, we’ll continue to consider this topic as we look at coffees for next year as we want to make sure we’re supporting good people throughout our supply chain.

This year’s crop is arriving late—no surprise there—and we’ll sample it in two months or so. We expected this to be an issue and have plenty of green coffee available to ensure that NOLA remains in stock. This is one of the inherent challenges of distilling with fresh ingredients. Farmers rely on weather, and weather changes year to year, but that is where the magic lies. Nothing matches the flavor of superlative raw ingredients distilled at their peak of flavor.

We would like to give you some details on the three coffees we’re currently using in NOLA. First, we’ve always used Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans for NOLA. Yirgacheffe beans create coffee with bright berry notes and earthy undertones, which are the perfect counterpoint to the plummy, jammy notes we get in our French chicory.

Our most recent bottling of NOLA features Butu, Beriti and Gotiti coffee beans. All are certified Organic. Both the Butu and Beriti coffees come through an organization called Metad, which owns land and works with local farmers. Metad has facilities for collecting and drying coffee beans as well as significant quality control methodologies and a strong corporate responsibility program. The Gotiti comes directly through a single farmer (Wondimu Unu) and this was his first year selling his coffee as its own micro-lot, though he’s been growing coffee for the last fifteen years. All of the coffees are grown in clay soils between 1900 and 2200 meters above sea level, then air dried on raised beds to preserve flavor.

The inspiration for NOLA was love. Our head distiller Dave Smith wanted to create a chicory coffee liqueur to celebrate the coffee he shared with his wife Julia as they were falling in love in New Orleans. As we continue to source our coffees, we will continue to make decisions based on flavors we fall in love with—as well as our love for the earth they come from.

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