Back in May we started this series on "roasters questions regarding decaf." The first question appears in the May 6 blog. Today's question: "Is truly high-end decaf really even available, since such large volumes of beans are needed for minimum toll decaffing?"
Answer: Available? Yes. Easy to find? No. And if you do find it, there might not be a lot of it. Artisan Coffee Imports is trying to help roasters overcome these two issues related to availability. Its business model is to become the "go-to" source for roasters who want a reliable and high quality decaf. They don't want to waste precious time searching through more than the average number of samples for something that meets their quality criteria, but is only 15-20% of their volume, tops.
The best ways to find out if an importer puts any time and effort into the quality of the decaf is to ask questions about the cupping scores and the traceability to origin. The importers listed on this webpage are places that will have reasonable answers to those questions. Or you can contact any of the roasters listed here and find out where they get their great tasting decaf. Finally, Coffee Review will focus on "decaf Blends" in their up-coming July 2010 issue. Check this blog for comments when that comes out!
Next roaster's question, "how does one keep exceptional decaf beans from losing their exceptional character over time?