The Annex: where most of our coffee (as well as MANY others) is offloaded after arriving at the Port of Oakland.
We get excited about new crop coffees, and while there is almost always some new crop coffee landing, this particular time of year is very hectic with arrivals. I thought now would be a good time to explain more about what exactly the "Arrival Date" in our reviews is referring to.
The arrival date field lists the month that particular coffee landed here at the Port of Oakland. The most recent dates usually equate to the most recent harvest. This, however, does not always mean that the cup quality of the coffees with older arrival dates has degraded, or that fresher is always better. Coffees from Ethiopia, for example, often cup great many months after they landed. We recently cupped several Ethiopias that arrived late 2012 that showed little to no signs of age, and stacked up amazingly well to their new arrival couterparts.
Packaging in grain pro bags has really helped to facilitate longer storage, but a coffee's ability to stand the test of time can also be attributed to the altitude where it is grown and the way it is handled after being picked. Pristine milling, drying, and local climate play a big role in creating a coffee with a more stable profile - and farmers in some regions are more able to achieve this than others. Other determinants include logistics of the region, and how coffee is moved, stored and transported out of the country. These are all factors we consider when deciding on how much of any particular coffee we purchase.
With this in mind, "Arrival Date" is one more piece of information we include in our reviews as an added layer of transparency. We don't think of it as a ruler by which you can simply measure a coffee's quality, or part of an equation that determines which coffees are "good" or "bad". Rather, this is a tool for you to use in order to gain a more complete picture of coffees you're considering buying. Most important, we continually cup our inventory, checking for quality and consistency in cup profile, and updating reviews and cupping scores when needed.