Introducing Thrive Market Organic Coffee! See How It’s Made, From Concept to Cup

March 15, 2017
by Melinda Gross for Thrive Market

Thrive Market Organic Breakfast Blend and French Roast coffees aren’t your average joes! A lot of time and effort went into these developing certified organic, ethically sourced, sustainably harvested coffees. Both artisan blends are available as whole beans or ground—no matter how you brew them, their full-flavor profiles come through. We think they’ll quickly become the favorite part of your day, whether you’re looking to ease into your morning, tackle a big project, or get a quick afternoon pick-me-up.

Here’s how we developed these special brews, from concept to cup—don’t forget to watch the video above, too!

coffee cherries

Step 1: Harvesting

Like wine, coffee picks up distinct characteristics from its terroir, or the combination of elements contributing to its unique growing conditions (like soil quality, environmental factors, and climate). So the decision of where to source Thrive Market coffee beans wasn’t an easy one. Our emphasis on certified organic beans helped narrow the field to Honduras, Peru, and Colombia—the most prominent origins for growing coffee without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. After several sampling rounds, the team settled on Peru, and Thrive Market Coffee Partners Ryan and Brittany began meeting with trusted suppliers and visiting plantations to check on the conditions.

“Many of our suppliers come from generations of coffee farmers so there’s something very romantic about visiting the origin site. You can see the whole lineage in the mountains and the trees. It’s really incredible to see how many people deeply care about this product,” Ryan says.

“We only work with people we really trust,” Brittany says. “We know they’re taking care of their workers. We know that there aren’t going to be any pesticides, that our crops are clean, and our beans are fresh.”

Once the beans were selected, the team’s focus shifted to developing ideal roasts for the two coffee flavors. The process entailed an exhaustive trial and error process of tweaking finish temperatures and roast times followed by sample taste tests called “cuppings.” Eventually, they found the perfect formulas for consistently balanced and flavorful brews.

“We were looking to create a cup of coffee that’s accessible to everyone. It should have a unique taste with gorgeous robust and sweet flavors, and lots of different notes, while still being the kind of thing that you love drinking and look forward to having every morning,” Brittany says.

We wanted to make a coffee for everyone to enjoy—whether you’re a coffee connoisseur or trying it at home for the first time.” —James, Thrive Market Coffee Master Roaster

On most coffee plantations, there’s one main harvest per year. Because the trees grow on steep mountainsides in Peru, they must be picked by hand—which also ensures only the ripest coffee cherries are selected. To prevent spoilage, the fruit is processed within 12 hours and quickly spread across large drying racks before being sent to the mill. There, the dried hulls are removed and the green-hued beans are polished before being hand-sorted into different quality grades. Only the highest grade beans are selected for Thrive Market coffees before being shipped to California for the roasting process.

roasted coffee beans

Step 2: Roasting

Thrive Market coffees are roasted in small batches to ensure freshness and consistent flavor. Each batch starts with 60 pounds of green coffee, which is poured into a roaster that’s been preheated to 500 degrees. The coffee beans drop the roaster’s temperature to about 150 degrees and heat is applied gradually depending on the desired flavor profile.

The heat dries out the coffee a bit as the moisture evaporates, and the beans turn from green to yellow. Over the next four minutes, the sugar in the coffee seeds begin to caramelize, causing the seeds to pop, which is known as the “first crack.” At this point, the coffee is losing quite a bit of moisture weight and beginning to break down so the roasting team monitors it closely. Each coffee flavor has specific metrics for roast times and temperatures following the first crack. Darker roasts, like Thrive Market’s Organic French Roast, stay in the roaster the longest, while light and medium roasts (like Thrive Market’s Organic Breakfast Blend) are pulled out sooner.

Thrive Market Coffee Master Roaster, James, recounts how an extra 15 seconds of roast time brought out the sweet caramel notes when he was experimenting with the Breakfast Blend.

“It’s pretty wild how much of a difference a little bit of time and temperature makes,” he says.

When the roasting process is over, a door opens, releasing the coffee onto a cooling tray equipped with fans and a mixer. Once the beans are cool enough to handle (about five minutes), they move from the roaster to the packing line where a portion are taken to the grinder. The rest head straight to packaging where they’re sealed into individual, 12-ounce bags.

chemex brew coffee

Step 3: Brewing

Both coffee flavors have been carefully crafted to express their full flavors regardless of your preferred brew method. The pre-ground beans use a special grind that results in a perfect cup of coffee, however you make it.

“We want everyone to be able to enjoy the coffee with no frills. It’s easy to brew and no special equipment is required,” Ryan says. “We built out our supply chain and roasting process in a certain way so that when the coffee reaches the customer, it’s just a few days or a week off of the roast. It’s fresh and tastes great.”

Thrive Market Organic Breakfast Blend

  • Hints of sweet caramel and vanilla
  • Well-balanced
  • Medium roast

Designed to ease you into your morning, the Breakfast Blend is a crowd-pleasing brew that’s slightly sweet with some acidity to help balance it out. It has a cherry aroma, but tastes chocolatey with notes of caramel, vanilla, and toffee. Shop now

Thrive Market Organic French Roast

  • Dark roast
  • Rich, dark-chocolate flavor
  • Complex

The French Roast has a longer roasting time, so it’s a dense brew with less acidity that pairs really well with cream and sugar. The chocolatey aroma gives way to the flavor of sweet dark chocolate. Shop now

So there you have it! We hope you enjoy these coffees as much as we do. Let us know which one is your new favorite in the comments below. Happy sipping!

Photo credit: Paul Delmont

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