Where are you located?
We are located in beautiful Estes Park, Colorado. Estes Park is the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park and is visited by over 3 million people every year.
Where is your coffee shop?
We don't have a coffee shop! We are an Internet Coffee Roastery completely focused on roasting great beans and delivering them uber fresh to our customers. Because we don't have the day-to-day pressure of running cafe, we are able to better focus on creating a great experience for our customers who brew coffee in their homes and places of work. Our goal is to help you brew the best cup of coffee possible in your home or office.
How long has Flattop been around?
Not very long! We are a small startup founded in 2014. After forming the company in late 2014, we launched our website in January of 2015. We've been roasting coffee for a number of years prior, but this Internet Coffee Roastery is the first commercial manifestation for the founders. We have a background in website design & development and digital marketing that we are putting into practice through this effort. The founding principle behind Flattop Coffee is the belief that we can create more value for coffee farmers and consumers by introducing the world of single-origin specialty coffee to more people in the United States. We do this by ensuring that our customers only receive the best coffee at maximum freshness (i.e. 48 - 72 hours after the actual roast).
Where does the name "Flattop" come from?
A Flattop is a pretty amazing men's hairstyle that may have been more in style in the 80's than it is today. We think that at some point it might make a resurgence and then we'll be way ahead of the curve with our business name. Flattop is also the name of a picturesque mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park, near where Flattop Coffee Roastery is located. There is a trail that takes you up to the summit of Flattop Mountain at 12,324 feet that features outstanding views.
Where does your coffee come from?
Ultimately, it comes from growers in a specific region. Our coffee is single-origin coffee, so we can trace the source of it very accurately. Sometimes it is from a specific farm and other times it is from a group of farms that share a common washing station. As you look at each coffee on our website, we share details about the origin of the coffee so that you can learn about the people and the area where the beans were produced.
How is your coffee imported into the US?
We have partnered with trusted and responsible coffee importers, such as Coffee Shrub, who visit the coffee producers directly before sourcing and purchasing the green beans. This method of purchasing beans directly from the farmers is called Farm Gate or Direct Trade. With this approach, the farmers are able to obtain higher prices for premium beans than they would through the Fair Trade program, which often involves a broker of some sort between the importer and the farmer. Direct Trade is better for the farmers from a profitability standpoint and rewards the farmer for high quality production. Flattop Coffee is normally the third party to handle the coffee. The grower produces the beans and processes them, our importer partners buy and import the beans into the US, and finally Flattop Coffee purchases the beans in bulk green form and roasts them before delivering them directly to you. In this way, we can all specialize on the part of the process that we are best at.
When & where are your beans roasted?
We currently roast our beans once per week every Monday and ship that same day. Most people don't realize the importance of bean freshness in brewing a quality cup of coffee or espresso. We are committed to only shipping extremely fresh beans and we will never ship old beans. Flattop beans are roasted in our coffee lab in Estes Park, Colorado (elevation 7500 feet). We roast very small batches according to the orders we receive each week. Some people have claimed that high altitude roasting produces a superior bean flavor. Although a lot of people think our beans are turning out well, we're not ready to attribute any success to the altitude. It is unique for a roaster to be located at this elevation and it is something that we'll continue to evaluate in future developments. Because we are centrally located in the United States, we're able to get beans almost anywhere in the continental US within 2 days for a reasonable shipping rate.
What is Single-Origin coffee?
Single-origin coffee is coffee that is grown within a single known geographical origin. Instead of just "Ethiopian" coffee, Single-origin coffee might be something like "Ethiopia Agaro Duromina Cooperative" coffee. In this example, Ethiopia is the country, Agaro is the region within the country, and Duromina Cooperative is the name of the washing station that processed the coffee.
What makes Single-Origin coffee better than other kinds of coffee?
I think there are several things that make it better including:
- More profit for local farmers - because the coffee does not go through an exchange of some sort and can be purchased directly from a farmer through a Direct Trade program, the farmer is able to command a higher price for the beans because of the absence of a middle-man. This supports the local farmer and helps to increase their quality of life.
- Better isolation of flavors - because the coffee is not mixed with beans from other regions, it can better express the unique flavors that come from a specific region. This makes for a more distinct and special tasting experience. Single-origin coffees will differ in flavor from one region to another (like wines), whereas other coffees yield more consistency.
- Higher overall quality - because the beans can be isolated to a given region, more selective processes can be applied to each lot of coffee to select a coffee that has superior quality. This creates an opportunity for farmers to capture the value for producing a superior bean rather than just throwing all of their beans in with the lot and getting a standard market price.
What is the difference between Direct Trade and Fair Trade?
Fair Trade is a well known term denoting responsible sourcing of coffee from ethnic growers. Fair Trade standards set a minimum fair price to be paid for beans and other standards that are regulated by Fair Trade USA, a non-profit organization. Small farmers may pay annual certification fees upwards of $10,000 to be eligible to participate. Fair Trade does not regulate quality of coffee, but is focused on supporting environmental, financial, and labor conditions under which the coffee is produced.
Direct Trade standards are established between the coffee importer and growers directly. Direct Trade partnerships offer opportunities for importers and roasters to develop stronger direct relationships with the growers themselves at no extra expense to the farmer or importer. Typically, coffee importers and roasters are compelled by the social, financial, and environmental sustainability surrounding the conditions under which the coffee is produced. Roasters and importers can also place a higher premium on higher quality beans, which gives the farmer an opportunity to become more profitable by increasing the quality of the coffee that is produced.
Why do you use light roast profiles?
We typically use light roast profiles for our pour-over roasts because it preserves more of the floral and berry notes that are so distinct within the single-origin coffees. Traditionally, coffees have been roasted in medium to dark roast profiles that destroy many of these delicate notes in the interest of producing a more consistent flavor with darker chocolate tones. In blended beans, it may not be advantageous to preserve so many floral, berry, and citrus notes because in many cases it may be too complex to be enjoyable. However, single-origin coffees often express more isolated floral, berry, and citrus notes that are unique to a given region. This may be a new way for you to experience coffee, but we think you will enjoy it.